The blurbs for this book – from older writers in the two westernmost Canadian provinces – stress how well-written and “intelligent” the stories are. I wonder whether very many read a book because it is well written or wise. I think most want more – which Love at Last Sight definitely offers. The cover copy also dwells on how allusively literary the stories are, as if that might sell copies. But it’s not the stories that are allusively literary; it’s the young-woman narrators of the stories, usually would-be writers or artists, who are characterized by Thea Bowering as obsessively literary – as drifting in a global world they perceive as having been oppressively and decisively written, written again, and overwritten.
THAT I find interesting: i.e. how can one function as a writer when it seems that all possible writing has already been done? How can one even navigate in a world that seems so overwritten that there is nothing unwritten, nothing outside of literary discourse, to experience? How can one be an edgy writer when the edges seem to have been long ago honed and all the incisive lines inscribed by the famous and recently famous names – Homer, Sappho, Shakespeare, Shelley, Keats, Baudelaire, Tolstoy, Flaubert, James, Bakhtin, Yeats, Williams, Woolf, HD, Benjamin, Synge, Orwell, Duncan, Cage, Barthes, Calvino, Derrida, Kroetsch, Berger, Sontag, Blaser – including also one George Bowering, to whom this book is dedicated? So many texts are quoted or incorporated in Love at Last Sight, from all of the above plus numerous texts written, sung or spoken by popular performers, that the collection concludes with nine pages of detailed credits. Nine pages of cheerily disguised anxiety of influence.
The title certainly conveys some cynicism – that one loves most at the moment of loss or departure. Most of the characters in these stories are reluctant to invest emotionally in their relationships, as if the already-written and multiply digitized world in which they live has no more promises not only of creativity but also of happy endings or