Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"It comes to me that fear of death is, from another angle, love of the world."

Originally printed in the Journal (Vol 135's Literary Supplement) in a collection of books for each season, this is the book I've been talking about to anyone to will listen lately.

When I Was Young and In My Prime - Alayna Munce

During the season of short days and long nights, it's easy to find refugre in that which is static--though life, as this book's narrator discovers, rarely stands still. When I Was Young and In My Prime skips between and around generations of one family, telling their stories with raw and beautiful concision, from Mennonite children in revolutionary Ukraine to broken bones on backyard ice rinks in rural Ontario to the painful awkwardness of old age.
Through diary entries, lists, poems and prose, over and over again, Munce nails the everyday, the mundane, with knowledge that comes from the heightened awareness of pain.
Our narrator is a young woman in her mid-twenties living in the Parkdale area of Toronto, who splits her time between waitressing in a bar* and writing. She's a version of Munce, and the book walks a blurred edge between fiction and autobiography--its truth is that palatable.
When I Was Young paradoxically provides comfort in its realism and its simple acceptance of the things that are beginnings, ends and everything in between.

(Need more? The title of this entry comes from the author's description of biking home through Toronto's rush hour, towards the sunset. Truth.)

*Rumour has it the bar she works at in the novel is Mitzi's Sister (pictured above). Live music every night. Queen West at Dowling, or so.

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