It is a hot June day. A woman sits in a bar in Montreal’s Main, waiting. Pushing down the disturbing scene (the police, a blanket) she saw that morning in the park. To focus herself, she tries to guess the stories of other women who come and go as the day darkens into night: the teenager Nanette; Adele of Halifax, who’s constantly on a train; a woman just back from Cuba; tIt is a hot June day. A woman sits in a bar in Montreal’s Main, waiting. Pushing down the disturbing scene (the police, a blanket) she saw that morning in the park. To focus herself, she tries to guess the stories of other women who come and go as the day darkens into night: the teenager Nanette; Adele of Halifax, who’s constantly on a train; a woman just back from Cuba; two lesbian lovers (one’s a “cowgirl”); Z., a performance artist; Norma jean from Toronto; the taunting radio voice of a woman promising a tango. Between the portraits, the woman watches and drinks and spins a setting for her “brides.” The question is, why does she keep deferring going home?...
|Number of Pages||:||240 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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Main Brides Reviews
Montreal's Virginia Woolf. Passages of incredible vividness, slipping in and out of lucidity, much of the time leaning towards utter dreamlike fragmentation and repetition. It's the kind of novel that teaches you how to read it (Ulysses is another example of such a novel); you learn the novel's codes and feel its fibers the more you read, so it started a little shaky for me and then got smoother and more enjoyable as I continued. Narration style incredibly innovative, as per Gail Scott. The reader follows the tenuous and anxiety-riddled consciousness of the narrator Lydia, getting drunk at her favorite bar (itself carrying memories and impressions) and avoiding the trauma of a violent scene she witnessed at the park that morning. As she sits people-watching, she imagines the stories of the women she sees--creates elaborate, nuanced, poetically fragmented portraits. These portraits bleed into each other, and also contain much projection from the Lydia's life and the lives of those who have passed through her. Without revealing anything about this main character, the reader is able to create a sort of accurate cubist portrait of her, through the imagined-and-projected portraits of these other women. Pretty darn incredible, if inaccessible at times. Montreal is beautifully rendered, along with the multiculturalism and language tensions found in the city. I loved when the novel would present conversations in Quebecois slang without translation. Also, no one writes about same-sex desire quite as gracefully and lushly as Gail Scott.
the female gaze. Lydia sits at a bar and describes what she sees and imagines, most often: herself, other women. (how's that for a plot!) a book of portraits, maybe a self-portrait, or maybe a book about portraiture--the ambiguity intentional and often successful as a statement about our success in ever describing completely an identity. this book's project as defined by its narrator: "Lydia (having trouble focusing) returns to her portrait: anecdotal fragments organized--but not too rigorously--with a little space around them to open possibilities" (167). what saves the book from disintegrating into just fragmentary observations is scott's fearless and idiosyncratic style. the writing's syncopated and richly arch music reveals a persistent conflict between empathy and judgment, between a wish to define and a desire to stay open. some of the best parts of the book come during a chapter whose content is the most traditional: the story of a springtime love affair. besides the quickly flaming and guttering of an april love, the chapter reveals rather strikingly the conflicts within the narrator: anecdotal versus analytical modes; english versus french ("You hate the way being with her makes you think so much in English, you lose the capacity for immediate abstraction that comes with speaking French"); a willingness to be self-critical or vulnerable versus a need to be defiant and judging. and: the beauty of the writing. scott's a singular, fierce and unapologetic stylist. at its most courageous it can invoke and then overcome sentimentality. here's a passage again about that april love affair--a straightforward description of the sweet and deadly swiftness of it:"Still April. You step outside. The sky is so blue you sense the infinity of dancing air. Around you the jonquils are laughing. Granted, this image is slightly sentimental. You can't help it, she's getting you so drunk with the caresses of her big hands, you feel like a giant. You rock your warm crotch against the cold cement, hoping that, with all that affection, she won't be pressuring you for commitment. The truth is, already you feel a little trapped. Because of that day she, sitting on the brown sofa in the living-room of that tacky hotel apartment she temporarily rented, knees up to chin, talking on the phone to her lover from Alberta, suddenly declared: 'I'm in love, Betty.' You didn't intend to listen. You couldn't believe she was putting her main relationship in jeopardy: by no means had you said anything about commitment. Yet, grudgingly, you wondered what makes these young dykes so courageous. Always taking chances. The way she kissed you in that bar, until both of you were floating. Definitely, no fear of flying" (108-9).