American Writers, Supplement XIII by Leonard Unger, Jay Parini

By Leonard Unger, Jay Parini

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He is also not a drug dealer. Though Zenia seems a compulsive and manipulative liar, she also holds a mirror up to each woman, confronting each with the truth. The same day that each woman confronts Zenia, the women decide to have dinner together and share their experiences. They then return to Zenia’s hotel to find Zenia dead. No one knows whether she killed herself or was murdered. Since no one really knows the truth of her life, it is only fitting that Zenia takes with her the truth about her death.

While a conventional narrative assumes that at least one of the characters will be likable and serve as the protagonist, reviewers and critics generally agree that each of the narrative foci in this book is distanced and unempathetic. Critics have also noted that the dated entries and present tense narration evoke the scientific observation that is Lesje’s vocation. Like a scientist, the reader must synthesize a story from data. In her article “The Canadian Mosaic” (in Essays on Canadian Writing, summer 1990), Carol Beran notes that there are some reasons for hope at the end.

Her memory intact, she is grateful to the environment that brought back the truth for her, and she begins a shamanistic descent into the nonhuman. The third section resumes first person present narration. ” She believes that she can feel her lost child rising in her. Instead of leaving the island with the others, she hides in a canoe. Listening intently to inner MARGARET ATWOOD / 23 voices, she returns to the cabin but soon finds that everything in the cabin must be destroyed. ” She sees a ghost of her mother as she used to be when she would stand so still that the jays would light on her.

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