Magazine article Herizons

Tell Tale Signs

Magazine article Herizons

Tell Tale Signs

Article excerpt

TELL TALE SIGNS.

Tell Tale Signs is a beautiful book. The text is richly textured, many layered, moving in and out of dreams, fragments form other texts (ranging from Tony Cade Bambara and Marguerite Duras to Maurice Blanchot and Fred Wah), lists, stories, journal entries, conversations, even recipes. Interspersed among the "fictions" are visual images, taken mainly from turn-of-the-century anatomical woodcut illustrations, which provide a playful and sometimes macabre intertext.

Williamson's general method is to split discourse into bits and pieces, to play out of and against these fragments in a rush of words, fictions, which come off sounding by turns desperate, humorous, sarcastic and mournful. As though she must push apart, violently, received language to make room for the speaking voice, speaking voices, colliding with one another, veering off in every direction, leaving us breathless, giddy at time, wide-eyed.

Here is an example of the sheer inventiveness of her prose, its openendedness: BIG as the big JESUS splashed across the side of the Calgary Trail grain elevator, the moon glides upward, diminishing in diameter as it arcs across the city. She thinks of her body, of food, of fuel - of the future of her body and what's left of her mind. Always there is something she ought to be doing, something other than what she is doing, something she should have been doing, impeccably, already.

Anything can happen. Every sign is a "tell tale sign," pointing us in the direction of the subject, in search of herself. Patricia Seaman, reviewing this book for paragraph, criticizes its total questioning of subjective positions, making the text suffer, the suggests, from "a kind of discursive schizophrenia." What I hear, rather, is the wounded subject, split apart by patriarchal violence, rape, a father's suicide, a lover's controlling rage, pushing her way through the ruins of her subjective landscape, sifting through the debris of an obsolete cultural script, piecing together, hopefully, painfully, a narrative of desire in the feminine, for comfort, recognition, healing, an end to violence, erotic pleasure. …

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