PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A CONSUMER: Sandra Ruttan

TELEVISION

The joke in this house is that my husband is all about movies and I’m all about TV; I love a great series, the kind that has season-long arcs, memorable characters. I’ve been doing a lunch rewatch of Fargo, season 1, recently. I love the storytelling, the characters, the intricate way the threads weave together.

We’re currently watching Insecure, which I love. Comedies have risen to the forefront of my viewing over the past two years; Letterkenny, Superstore, The Good Place, Barry. These are all must watch.

I’m looking forward to Stranger Things and The Handmaid’s Tale and season 2 of Dark. I can’t wait for the adaptation of Eden Robinson’s Trickster series next year.

Best shows ever list includes Rectify, The Wire, Breaking Bad, Justified. I would be looking forward to Hap and Leonard, but Sundance cancelled their most-watched original show. Assholes. (See how long my memory is, Sundance? I haven’t forgotten, or forgiven.)

BOOKS

The first book I remember picking out in the library when I was young was The Boy With Two Eyes. When I had pneumonia my sister brought me home The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and my love of Narnia and Lewis was born. I was also a huge fan of books like Jack London’s The Call of the Wild.

My tastes are pretty varied. I’m currently reading Alicia Elliott’s amazing A Mind Spread Out On The Ground, Rebecca Roanhorse’s Storm of Locusts and I just bought Waubgeshig Rice’s Moon of the Crusted Snow. One of my favorite reads from last year was Guillermo Stitch’s Literature, and I was a big fan of Terror is our Business: Dana Roberts’ Casebook of Horrors by Joe and Kasey Lansdale. This year, Dea Poirier impressed me with her debut, Next Girl to Die, and I loved Gitz Crazyboy’s book Secret of the Stars. I’m always looking forward to the next Ian Rankin – I do love Scottish crime fiction. I’ve also been reading beyond the genre, and indulging in works like The See-Through Leopard, which reduced me to tears. Sometimes, a book is about the concept, sometimes it’s about the character, sometimes it’s the emotion and connection. Those are the things that really draw me in.

FILMS

Although Brian is typically the film junkie, I’ve been watching more films this year. While I’m a fan of the original Star Wars films and love films from a variety of genres, one of the things that really makes a film stand out for me is the emotional connection. I tend to like weighty movies that deal with heavy issues.

One of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time was A Monster Calls. It was heart-wrenching and powerful. I’m a Taylor Sheridan fan. I love Wind River and Hell or High Water.

Get Out was amazing, we watched Midnight Run this year, which holds up impressively.

My current most-anticipated movies? Blood Quantum, Us and Falls Around Her. I don’t get to the theater often, so I usually have to wait for DVD or streaming.

MUSIC

I was raised strictly on country music, but my tastes have expanded far beyond that. I like everything from A Tribe Called Red to Snotty Nose Rez Kids to Rhiannon Giddens to Iskwe to J.J. Grey and Mofro to James Bay to the Revivalists to Rag’n’Bone Man.

TRAVEL

I like flying. I like traveling by train. I love a good road trip. There’s just something about getting out on the road and going … We did a lot of camping trips when I was a kid and I always liked driving.

I have traveled extensively … 25 countries or so on 4 different continents, to about two dozen different states, from New Brunswick to British Columbia in Canada, and I’ve also been to the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

Favorite places include the ruins in Tunisia, the rainforests of Costa Rica, and the Irish coast and countryside. Outside of North America I’ve been to the U.K. more times than anywhere else, and I always enjoy it. London and Edinburgh are two of my favorite cities. And for an unexpected European wonder that I knew little about but loved? Portugal. You can’t beat the art in Italy, but I loved the atmosphere in Lisbon.

FOOD

I have some health issues that have put me on a limited diet, so no gluten, no milk, no sugar these days. I occasionally cheat for cheese. I love a great fruit salad, my favorite meal is steak, baked potato and corn on the cob. I have ways of still eating tacos … I love tomatoes, spinach and feta cheese; I can live off of that as a soup.

DRINK

I drink a lot of water. I also love lemonade, and strawberry peach juice. Part of my diet means no more soda; I don’t like coffee but I love cranberry tea.

ART

The Group of Seven. I love their work. Can’t really express all the reasons why; we had to do a project on one of them when I was in high school and I focused on Lawren S. Harris. His works have this divine quality to them, like a merging of heaven and earth.

OTHER

My longstanding lack of interest in comedy and what might be dubbed frivolous entertainment stems from being a pretty serious person. I grew up with a parent who was undiagnosed bipolar, and there were some other issues, and I found it hard to find things funny when I was just trying to hold things together.

Over the years I’ve shed my staunch conservative upbringing and mindset, and also learned to laugh. In spite of that, I am very passionate about serious issues and politics. I oppose the genocide of Indigenous persons and want to see Canada take action to implement the recommendations from the #MMIWG report and begin to actually atone to Indigenous people. We need a nation to nation relationship that respects Indigenous people and their lands. I also have a couple close family members who are part of the LGBTQ+ community and it is important to me to advocate for their rights. I’m also passionate about mental health awareness and the rights of those with disabilities and am concerned about environmental issues.

I believe it is our duty to be actively involved and advocate for the world we want to see. Anyone can complain, but a difference is made by people taking action.

BIO: Sandra Ruttan is the submissions editor for Bronzeville Books, manages content for Bronzeville Bee (a paying ‘zine publishing fiction and non-fiction) and the author of several books, short stories and non-fiction articles, interviews and reviews. Her background includes studying journalism and special education; she loves to travel, enjoys photography, and loves crafts but isn’t very good at them.

2019 Sandra hooded face