There are some authors I greatly admire. I know many of their titles and I might even know their story. I know they are important and that most certainly changed something with their writing, or gave voice to some particularly difficult part of society.
The only thing I am missing is to actually read their work.
It happened with Margaret Atwood.
I knew she is one of the most important Canadian writers and a brilliant poet; her books tell about women with a unique and strong voice – although, don’t call her feminist!
I knew she si a fierce defendant of Canadian identity – it’s her works people read, when studying Canadian Literature.
I knew she is an environmentalist and lately discovered that she invented and developed something called LongPen.
And yet, I had never read any of her book. Until recently, at least.
Not sure where to start, I walked into the library and let the books speak to me. A few minutes later, I walked out with a copy of ‘Bodily Harm’ in my hands.
It’s a story about how Rennie Wilford went from being a woman, to being a statistic, to being an empty body, carrying the scars of a breast cancer removal.
It’s not one of her greatest stories, but it’s fascinating in so many ways. First of all for they way three different stories are told: right now (present tense), Rennie is coping with loss and deciding to leave; in the past, she had to experience breast cancer and the consequences of that on her relationship with Jake; in between the two, Danny happens.
More linearly, that’s what happens.
After her partner left her, Rennie tries to cope with the part of her life – and of her body – she has lost. It’s the most difficult task. After a failed love affair with a doctor (Danny), she appeals to her boss for a travel piece, a chance to travel somewhere away from all the trauma that the last few months have held for her.
She is quickly sent to St Antoine, in the Caribbean Islands.
The English have left the islands only since a short time and the first democratic elections are held in a few days.
If Rennie is looking forward to a relaxing couple of weeks of writing, she will be greatly disappointed.
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