A debut collection of personal essays from a Montreal-born writer.
Chew-Bose is fascinated by life and especially by her response to it. She loves movies, painting, her skin, her name, the sound of her voice, her heart, and just about anything that occurs to her. Her debut is a work of self-examination and memoir, a young writer’s songs of herself. She opens the collection with the ambitious, lengthy “Heart Museum,” which begins as a rumination on the physical and emotional durability of the heart and quickly sidetracks into a hyper-referential stream-of-consciousness stroll through every subject that strikes her fancy, from cinematography to old boyfriends to random family memories to writing. Possibly taking her cue from Chris Marker’s great documentary Sans Soleil, Chew-Bose seems bent on creating an essay that charts a surprising and compelling course despite having no obvious destination. Instead, it becomes an increasingly fetishistic ramble that flies off on various tangents. “Groping through the dark is, in large part, what writing consists of anyway,” she offers at one point, perhaps by way of explanation. “Working through and feeling around the shadows of an idea. Getting pricked. Cursing purity. Threshing out. Scuffing up and peeling away. Feral rearranging. Letting form ferment.” The trend toward navel-gazing continues in the subsequent essays, but some also profit from a sharper, more direct focus, especially when the author addresses what it means—as a young woman from an Indian family growing up in mostly white Canada—to come to terms with cultural identity: “Nothing will make you fit in less than trying, constantly, to fit in: portioning your name, straightening your hair, developing a love-hate fascination to white moms whose pantries were stocked differently than yours, who touched your hair, admiring ‘how thick’ it was.”
Chew-Bose is an intense observer and cataloger of sensations, but this type of literary impressionism, where self-discovery becomes self-absorption, wears thin.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)