Writing

Archive for the 'Geist' Category

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

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

Self by Yann Martel

Self By Yann MartelPublished by Knopf Canada

Yann Martel’s novel Self (Knopf), seems aptly titled for a book that depicts a character growing from childhood into adulthood. Martel’s first book, The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, kept me on my couch for chapter after chapter with tears in my eyes. Self displays Martel’s breadth of knowledge, his skill at prose and his lovely imagination. In spite of this, it has been resting at the bottom of my bedside reading pile with a bookmark stuck in about a third of the way through for at least a month now. Continue reading ‘Self by Yann Martel’

My Messy Bedroom

My Messy Bedroom by Josey VogelsPublished by Véhicule Press

I like good deals but sometimes a good tip will serve the same purpose. I was happy to find in Josey Vogels’s My Messy Bedroom (Véhicule Press) an intriguing tip on buying bras. In the chapter called “Booby Trap” she answers the question I’ve always had: how do you find a bra that does the job it’s supposed to? My mother tended to shoo me into the teen section and leave me there while she stood on the sidelines with her handbag. The bargain aisles of Eaton’s and the Bay haven’t taught me much about how a bra should fit or what it should feel like when it’s doing its job. The chapter’s opening sentence gives the store’s coordinates: “Thee Lingerie Shoppe on Hamilton Street in Regina” and the next time I’m in Saskatchewan I plan to drop by. Vogels’s chatter in favour of well-fitted bras is worth reading too, and helped banish the sugar-high feeling I got from reading her “fun” journalistic prose.

Geist Magazine, Issue #21

Tokyo Cowboy

Tokyo Cowboy by Kathy Garneau (a film review)

Canada Post hired me in January, and at first I worked at a station in my own neighbourhood, meaning I left my house at 6:48 a.m. to arrive at 6:52 a.m. Life seemed fair; I could have been posted in the suburbs. It lasted only two weeks, but back in those days, feeling optimistic, I went to see Tokyo Cowboy, Kathy Garneau’s first feature film, in which one of the characters is a postie in full regalia—blue jacket, grey pants and navy blue satchel, embodying all that I had yet to become: fully uniformed, excellent at sorting his mail and familiar with all the houses and occupants on his walk. I realized that posties symbolize Canada to me almost as much as those relentless Mounties do. Maybe it’s the corporate logo you see everywhere, or maybe their reputation for friendliness, or their omnipresence (ever counted how many post office trucks you see in a day?), or perhaps the distances they travel and the weather (not to mention the dogs) they negotiate to deliver the mail.
Continue reading ‘Tokyo Cowboy’