Writing

Archive for 1996

Breasting the Waves: On Writing and Healing

Breasting the Waves: On Writing and Healing by Joanne ArnottPublished by Press Gang

Joanne Arnott in Breasting the Waves: On Writing and Healing writes with great effort, feeling her way toward expression and sense without giving her life away as if it were in the “miscellaneous” box at a garage sale. Arnott begins and ends with her story of being held hostage and beaten by a man she met on her way to university. The meaning of “hostage” (but not “victim”) is questioned over and over in the book as Arnott remembers growing up female, Métis and abused. She approaches herself respectfully. The essays blur seminar-style information and fiction-style narrative; but straight fiction might have allowed her more intensity. Also, the title of this book undermines Arnott’s seriousness with an unnecessary play on words. And while I loved the shape and feel of the cover, the image seemed wrong; at first glance it made me skeptical of the contents.

Geist Magazine, Issue #21

Princess at the Window: A New Gender Morality

Princess at the Window: A New Gender Morality by Donna Laframboise Published by Penguin

If you watch TV or read the popular press, you probably know more about the rebellion against feminism than you do about feminism itself. Nay-sayers to the women’s movement have been popular since Camille Paglia, queen of provocation, cleared the way in 1990. Most of these books that promise to throw a wrench in the works of social change, including Toronto Star columnist Donna Laframboise’s The Princess at the Window, are being issued by big houses (Kate Fillion’s recent and much-excerpted Lip Service from HarperCollins; Katie Roiphe’s Morning After: Sex, Fear and Feminism from Little, Brown; Wendy Dennis’s Hot and Bothered: Sex and Love in the 90s from Key Porter) perhaps because they promise high sales due to their controversy. These books are quintessential pop-psychology, café talk dressed up as exposé and inquiry, the sort of stuff pop-culture loves. Their writing masquerades as intelligent rumination on the nature of things (in this case feminism) for those of us who don’t have the time or attention spans to read the real thing.
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Lonesome Monsters

Lonesome Monsters by Bud OsbornPublished by Anvil

Speaking of jarring but effective writing, Bud Osborn’s Lonesome Monsters (Anvil) successfully dramatizes the harsher side of urban life. This book, though it doesn’t break new ground in form or content, depicts the Main-and-Hastingses of North America in unpretentious and straightforward poems. The modesty with which each poem is constructed underscores the sadness and despair that their characters feel. Osborn’s sense of humour and his portraits of violence, exploitation and heartache, easy to overdo, survive my distaste for melodrama and even survive the text’s unflattering typeface. Apparently Osborn’s been writing for twenty-five years. Where has he been all this time?

Geist Magazine, Issue #22