Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Love for Schoemperlen's By the Book

There's been a fair bit of love for Diane Schoemperlen's By the Book: Stories and Pictures of late, some of which has already hit, and some of which is coming down the pipe.  First up, Stacey Mae Fowles gave Diane's book a very smart review a few weeks ago in the Globe and Mail: 

"By The Book reveals with even more vibrancy Schoemperlen’s reconstructive impulse, this time in full glossy colour, with a more sophisticated hand and more depth of source materials. Culling the contents of long-forgotten encyclopedias, handbooks and hilariously dated how-tos, there is less of Schoemperlen’s own voice here and more of a virtuoso performance in found text and visual poetry. ... she reveals herself to be a curator of both juxtaposition and connection, luxuriating in the way language works and what feelings it can conjure when laid on the page."

The November issue of Quill and Quire also contained George Featherling's fine review of the same.  After discussing her process and how the stories work, Featherling offers up the following:
"Her wit, however, is just the glaze on her serious intentions. One need not squint to see that between the lines Schoemperlen is using history to ridicule our own societal certainties or even to protest Canada’s increasing authoritarianism. In every case, she looks for fresh ways of pushing the boundaries of Canadian fiction. She is an original."
We, of course, couldn't agree more, especially about Diane's wit, and her pushing of boundaries.  We've been pretty clear, on Thirsty and elsewhere, what we think of this book: I have been fascinated by it since it arrived a year and a half ago, and it's sent me scuttling back to Diane's earlier work like Forms of Devotion so hungry I've become for more.  This is a book which challenges what both the story and book can do as forms; it's also as joy-filled as a book can be.  

For the full Quill & Quire review, which is paired up with Molly Peacock's Alphabetique, please go here.  

Speaking of joy, Diane talked about how By the Book brought more joy to her than she's experienced in her writing in years on DNTO this past Saturday.  Working on By the Book, she told Sook Yin Lee, reminded her of something she'd forgotten over her years of trying to make a living as a writer: creation is supposed to be fun.  The theme of this episode of the show was garbage, and Diane turned the concept on its head, by showing how the detritus of one period can be transformed into the art of another.  It's a fascinating 9 minute interview, which begins approximately at 38:45, continuing until 47:45.  Take a listen here:


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