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Editor's Note
by Olga Stein

In reviewing Jacques Derrida's The Work of Mourning (BiC Aug. 02), Stan Persky relates a central concern of the book: ". . . if a friend dies and you're called upon to say something at the funeral or to write an obituary, how do you deal with the difficulty of speaking in the midst of grief? How to speak or write at all when, in a sense, the friend's death always leaves one "speechless," beyond words? How to speak in such a way as to really honour the dead and not to egotistically pre-empt the departed one with your own sorrow?"

The Work of Mourning is a collection of essays about Derrida's dead friends. Persky writes, "Not only do these essays give us a poignant and warm-hearted Derrida, but they also work pretty well as an introduction to some of the best thinkers of our era."

When I asked David Gardner to write about Timothy Findley, I hoped for something close to the spirit with which Derrida's memorials were composed. I hoped we would be given both a sense of Findley's character, the source of his creative output on stage and on paper, as well as an overview of his career, his theatre days and the books he had written. Gardner provides all this and more; he writes his in memoriam as a devoted friend, speaking from the wings, keeping the light focused on the gentleman, and very talented artist, Timothy Findley.

Part of this month's issue examines women's lives. Clara Thomas and Naomi Black analyze a variety of texts which elucidate the experiences of women within different communities and different historical contexts in Canada and Europe. Among other things, the books selected for review look at whether, and with what degree of success, long-standing or traditional state and corporate attitudes have changed in order to accommodate the needs of working women and their families.

Short story collections, particularly those of Dianne Warren and Shaena Lambert, offer more intimate glimpses of women's lives, their relationships with spouses or lovers, their frustrations, sexual aspirations and fantasies. Nancy Lee, interviewed about her book of stories, speaks up for Dead Girls, the young women trapped in a life of prostitution on Vancouver's Skid Row; it is a pointed reminder that some things haven't changed much.

And there's a great deal more in the issue: John Ayre gives us young Mordecai Richler struggling to write his first book, The Acrobats. These early forays into novel writing are juxtaposed with essays in Dispatches from A Sporting Life, the work of a confident, established writer.

Yann Martel is interviewed here about his Life of Pi, same-sex marriage is discussed in Just Married: Gay Marriage and the Expansion of Human Rights, and Michael Moore throws many a brick at Stupid White Men. Everywhere you look, long-established beliefs and values are questioned, derided and rebuffed. See for yourself.


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