In COVID times, I miss taking a day off work to watch the obscure, off-the-wall shorts that you can only truly experience at film festivals. I’ll admit that most of my reactions are skewed towards the “what did I just see?” and “I’m ok with only seeing that once or never.” When I buy my tickets after reading the beautifully put-together brochures, the experience I’m hoping for is not unlike my reaction to Meghan Bell’s debut collection of rivetting, shake-you-by-the-shoulders short stories in “Erase and Rewind”. I found this book difficult to put down, almost as if it were rude to leave the cinema before all the shorts ended. In a matter of hours, I discovered 13 works that could easily play on screen.
Bell uses some of her personal experiences to explore painful themes which sadly, many women are too familiar with. Yet I don’t see a need for a trigger warning so much as a catharsis alert. This book reveals healing and spaces to breathe. In “From a High Place”, she explores the boundaries of friendship and the lines we tread carefully when evaluating someone else’s mental health, especially when they are close to us. “Lighthouse Park” is another exploration of that theme, from the viewpoint of grief. “I Was Made to Love You” is a painful representation of betrayal that some of us see when we are used up in a toxic relationship. Any reader will be hooked from the first page when Bell manages to turn back time and erase an act of violence while confronting self-preservation versus activism for all womankind. The depths of parental love are tested in Captain Canada.
The dialogue flows easily and is binge worthy. Narrations are a seamless brain transplant; you are right there, in the character’s head, no escape. Nor do you feel compelled to escape.
Her prose spins quickly; there is no time to rest or ponder what just happened. As a reader, you will be in the moment along with each protagonist, seeing what it feels like to be a woman in that moment, uncertain, doubtful, but released from the obligation to do anything. These aren’t women that need to be rescued. They’ve already rescued themselves, for better or worse. This is an exciting collection to witness and an author to watch for.
Meghan Bell is a writer and visual artist based in Vancouver. Her work has appeared in The Walrus, The Tyee, The New Quarterly, Prairie Fire, Grain, Rattle, CV2, and The Minola Review, among others. She joined the editorial board of Room Magazine in 2011 and was the magazine’s publisher from 2015-2019. During this time, she co-founded the Growing Room Literary Festival and acted as the lead editor and project manager of the magazine’s fortieth anthology, Making Room: Forty Years of Room Magazine (Caitlin Press, 2017). Erase and Rewind is her debut story collection. You can find her online at meghanbell.com.
- Publisher : Book*hug Press (May 18 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 200 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1771666781
- ISBN-13 : 978-1771666787
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