Zoe Whittall was one of my favorite people there, but don't let that take anything away from what I tell you about her work. Whether or not you ever meet her, you'll know why I liked her so much when (not if, friends) you read Bottle Rocket Hearts. I finished the book last night, but I've been waiting for it since I heard Zoe read a snippet at the IV Lounge years ago. Then I got strep throat the week of the book launch, much to my chagrin. Anyway, I finally get the book, tore through it in a couple days, and it blew me away. Having read both of Zoe's books of poetry, I knew I wasn't going to be disappointed. Bottle Rocket Hearts probably speaks to me -- in part -- because Zoe's pretty much exactly my age, and she captures such a formative time (the years of 19 - 21) in a person's life so perfectly, and with such clarity. There's something dreamy about Bottle Rocket Hearts, like a slight haze of nostalgia is hanging over every crisp, perfectly rendered detail.
In the first installment of this blog, I said I'm not a book reviewer, and the above is a good example of why. Let's let the professionals do it for a bit:
Whittall's writing is eloquent and infused with snippets of Canadiana such as, "I learned everything I know about sex from Degrassi Junior High." Her writing style is Coupland-esque, which is fitting as she uses a quotation of his for her epigraph.
Bottle Rocket Heats is full of sarcasm, name-dropping and style punctuated with a queer, feminist twist.
It's a book I devoured page after page, yet (yes, it's a cliché, but true) one I didn't want to end.
Zoe Whittall might just possibly be the cockiest, brashest, funniest, toughest, most life-affirming, elegant, scruffy, no-holds-barred writer to emerge from Montreal since Mordecai Richler staked out the moral terrain that would define and shape his work with A Choice of Enemies in 1957.
Could I sound like anymore of a drooling fan girl? Look, I'm a book nerd. I mentioned in the Book Expo post how I get weird around authors I like. The above content is about someone I like, who's an author. I get weird because it amazes me, all the time, that people can do this. I've certainly tried my hand at it, with mixed results (from bad to terrible). So for me, a good book is a little bit of magic. I was a solitary kid, but I always had my books. I will always have my books. And yeah, I'm totally blown away that someone I know, someone I think is pretty awesome, created this amazing work, this good book. It just makes her more awesome. So she gets a bunch of paragraphs, where most authors only get a couple. Too bad.
More on the JT LeRoy/Laura Albert story:
Slate says what I meant, but far, far better.
But step back for a moment: Sarah is a novel, not a memoir. It contains the same events, in the same order, no less "true" or "false" than they were before the hoax was exposed. What, with Albert unmasked, did Antidote lose? The answer, it seems, is that Antidote wanted, and paid for, and lost, the right to call Sarah a product of LeRoy's life. "We bought the identity of the book's author," one Antidote employee said. The value of the novel, in Antidote's view, depended not on what was between its covers, but on who the producers thought the author was (and on their belief that the novel derived directly from events in his life). Almost all the press around Albert's deception—including stories about the trial—has treated "LeRoy's" fiction the same way, as something akin to falsified autobiography.
And I still need to tell you about The Birth House, and Moral Disorder. I'm a blogging machine this week!