Spain Remembers

Spain Remembers

Friday, April 12, 2013

Joan's Pick of the Week

I love a long, dense, well-written, meaty essay that presents the new and interesting. Recently,  I was cheered to learn from the New York Times that the long form essay is experiencing a resurgence in popularity.

 The Best Canadian Essays edited by Christopher Doda and Ray Robertson has collected  several gems.  Stephen Henigan's infamous dissing of the Giller Prize in "How the Giller Swallowed Canadian Literature,"  first published in CNQ, is a good example.  Eric Andrew- Gee's shorter piece, "Our Tarsands Man in Washington," follows former Manitoba premier Gary Doer as he morphs from environmentalist  into a tout for the sands.

I am especially fond of personal memoir and here we find five excellent examples of the species. Atif Rafay uses his thoughts about Glen Gould to segue into a mediation about  prison life as he has experienced it, outlining the mental damage that affects those locked away.  Alexandra Molotkow, in "My Cybersexual Education," provides  a truly jaw-dropping account of  web surfing porn at the age of twelve with her girlfriends which quickly led to their full participation in cyber sexual activities.

Thunder Bay's Marion Agnew has the quietest and most touching essay in the book.In a beautifully written piece, titled "All I Can Say", she reflects on loss, on death and the isolation of grief.

Marion Agnew

In a book of seventeen essays, there are bound to be one or two clunkers. Ryan Bigge writes that "Indie Won." I read it but I had no idea what he was talking about. Paul Wilson, in "Adrift on the Nile," in an otherwise excellent essay on his experiences with the recent Egyptian revolution, emphasises how safe the streets of Cairo are. It is too bad he did not interview women on this point, who have spoken up about the prevalence of public gang rapes. When women's experience are left out of the equation, the whole collapses.

On the whole, this is a grand collection worth buying. Available at the Northern Women's Bookstore.

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