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The danger of being a woman in the Canadian literary world

I can’t help but think that this archaic idea that victims should stay silent if they want “real justice” is lunacy. Victims of harassment, rape and violence know legal justice in these circumstances is a near impossibility, that there are no good choices, and they need a forum for the suffocating facts, regardless. Since it’s obvious we have failed to provide that safe space for them, discussions on social media and online essays have become a last resort.

Of course, if we had collectively turned our attentions to supporting and believing women in the first place, there wouldn’t have been a need for this churn of online “outrage.” For the women who gather the unbelievable strength to finally speak, this is about healing, about making the community safer and better for all of us, and because of that we should constantly be encouraging them to share their stories on whatever platform they choose.

Read the full essay at The Globe and Mail.

Adult Onset, by Ann-Marie MacDonald: Review

adultonset Yet there is a persistent unease to each domestic tableau in the novel, and there are many. Every action is tightly wrapped in the hysteria of modern parenting — the baby-proofing of coffee tables and toilets, stray pairs of scissors and choking-hazard pennies found by curious toddlers and a beloved family pit bull (barely) attacking the postman. You get the sense that Mary Rose is, like the reader, constantly waiting for tragedy to strike, whether it is in an immediate misfortune or “the mid-life cancer disaster that was stalking (her) generation.” In one late evening episode, when Mary Rose cannot reach her wife on the phone, she immediately jumps to the worst conclusion, bargaining with an unseen force to please let Hil be having an affair, please let her not be dead. And then there is her long unchecked anger — “the rage” — which she tidily takes out on herself, or on a Rubbermaid bin in the family’s basement.

Read the full review at The Afterword.

Carrie Snyder: en route to a runaway success

mg_4537-300x200.pngGirl Runner is a plot-driven narrative of one of those forgotten women, fictional 104-year-old Aganetha “Aggie” Smart. Now wheelchair-bound, alone and abandoned in a nursing home, Aggie asks, “Who will write my obituary?” now that everyone who knew her is gone. The ambitious and uncompromising Aggie reflects on her rich and storied life: her childhood in rural Ontario, her work at the Rosebud Confectionary factory, the friendships she forged, her brief fame as a 1920s Olympic track star and Canadian darling, and her failures and triumphs along the way.

It is a feminist book, yet written in an accessible way for those who may not reflect on the complex issues facing women in sport. The novel also touches on a variety of subjects beyond athletics, including abortion and employment equality, and features the kind of positive female relationships rarely seen in mainstream literature.

Read the profile at Quill and Quire.

The Next Chapter

Hot, Wet, and Shaking, by Kaleigh Trace: Review

Hot, Wet, and Shaking is written in the tone of a trusted and cheeky friend, confessing secrets that shake loose their shame when spoken aloud. This is not the sex advice of a poised, multi-orgasmic, inaccessible, or clinical expert, but rather the honest musings of a woman in a pair of yesterday’s dirty jeans. Trace describes how it was a love of feminist literature that got her into Venus Envy, and how working there expanded her thoughts and views on sex and its participants. Her depiction of herself as a messy, comedic heroine, an unlikely and even unqualified sex educator, adds weight to the value of her advice, as we come to immediately trust her as she hilariously catalogues her flaws and foibles for all to see.

Read the full review here.


Foul Territory


Those who love baseball often hold it up as the intelligent fan’s sport. We believe it to be wholesome, wise, and poetic, somehow above the violent, abhorrent behaviour of other professional athletic pursuits. The reality is that MLB’s record on domestic violence is actually worse than the NFL’s. Baseball’s romantic mythology conveniently conceals a long list of threats, beatings, and rapes that the sport’s powers that be have egregiously failed to punish. Women continue to be the voiceless victims of a regressive, sanctioned culture; Hayhurst’s piece and the so-called “awareness” it garners exert no pressure on actually changing that. There is no consequence for the perpetrators or bystanders, no punishment for the institutions—just a token gold star for the player who, eleven years later, set a corner of the Internet afire with a salacious tale.

Read the full essay at The Walrus.

Die 4 U at The New Inquiry

stacey-lana1.jpg…This is not to say that Lana Del Rey doesn’t suffer, but that when she does it’s quick. Then she curls her hair, smokes a Parliament, and gets a little bit of bourbon in her. (I get a little bourbon in me, and I either need to have a cry or go to bed. Listening to Lana Del Rey is like doing both.) When, in an Ultraviolence lyric, she tells us that his “Bonnie on the side” makes her a “sad, sad girl,” we don’t really believe it. Her heart seems unbreakable, and there is no better “fake” daydream than the invincible heart.

-Die 4 U, at The New Inquiry


Emily Gould’s Friendship for The National Post

friendship.jpgGould is indeed a polarizing figure, with constant debates about her validity, and constant vitriol slung her way, but I’ve always viewed her as much more of an admirable literary entrepreneur than an egregious upstart. Gould found success during a time of publishing upheaval, and wisely used the Internet to her advantage, climbing to the top of the pile not only because of her talent (which she clearly has), but also because of her tenacity and drive. These observations aren’t in any way derisive, but it would seem that old school literary types find this brand of honesty and ambition — especially in a woman — particularly distasteful.

Read the essay at The Afterword.

Ms. America

I wrote about Lana Del Rey’s nostalgia for an old lie for The New Inquiry’s Ms. America Supplement.