January 8, 2009

It occurs to me that Unless is the first Canadian novel I’ve ever read. It also occurs to me that Unless is the first novel I’ve ever read by a woman and about women. It left me wondering if the book was meant for women, a little bit.

Unless is a first-person narrative about a woman who has suffered a great tragedy in her life, the kind of tragedy of a tentative nature that manages to keep her mind on this tragic event throughout the entire book because beyond the sadness there’s also a great deal of worry involved.

There’s a lot going on here. The narrator, Reta Winters, is an author of what I can only describe as chick-lit. ‘Comic fantasy’ is what she and her editor call the books she writes. Reta also translates the memoirs of feminist author and Holocaust survivor Danielle Westerman, and Westerman’s views carry over into a lot of the book. The reader follows along with Reta Winters while she deals with daily life, writing, friends, and family while also dealing with what else is going on, outside of her control. This makes up the bulk of the book.

I thought it was a solid, though very wordy, read. I’m glad I read it but I’m afraid my attention span made it so that some of the passages blurred into each other. It left me feeling as though there were something profound that the author was trying to impart that I must have missed. I don’t feel as though that’s the author’s fault, though.

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