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Sunday March 28, 2010 in Books
An exquisite painter, intellectual, social activist and articulate lesbian feminist, Mary Meigs did not begin her writing career until age sixty. While her books are grounded in the particulars of her personal relationships, they are difficult to categorize. So luminous are they with her painter’s recognition of the dance of shades and hues of context, so unsparingly lucid is her intellect of analytical and mindful thought, so unsentimental and profoundly self-aware is her heart, that her books read like the most exquisitely crafted fiction a life embraced to the fullest, and with eyes wide open, can become in its written record.
Mary Meigs suffered a stroke in 1999. Undaunted and irrepressible, Meigs embraced her fate with both a penetrating curiosity and an utterly undiminished will to create. New, discrete forms of writing emerged: an incisively contemplative journal; a beautifully witty, illustrated fax correspondence between her cat Mike and Marie-Claire Blais’s cat Mouser; and a fascinating series of collaborative “free writing” sketches, beginning with a line or phrase, usually from a poem, on which the writer elaborated without moving pen from paper.
Lise Weil has constructed a celebratory gathering of these magical pieces in Beyond Recall, Meigs’s paean to the indomitable human spirit and its triumph over the infirmities and obstacles old age imposes on the human condition.
ISBN 13: 9780889225053 | ISBN 10: 889225052
7 W x 10 H inches | 160 pages
$19.95 CAN / $15.95 US
Backlist | Non-Fiction | Bisac: BIO007000
QUOTES OF NOTE
“ Beyond Recall … is a beautiful, whimsical and detailed description of the last two years of Meigs’ life. It also documents a woman’s life after 80—a virtually unexplored territory. What sticks in Meigs’ mind as chronicled here is both visual and visceral.”
“ Beyond Recall provides an eloquent coda to Meigs’ literary ouevre …”
— Canadian Literature
“Lise Weil compiled and edited all of [Meigs’s] creative output into an elegant book so that the rest of us could have one last encounter with a remarkable writer.”
“While [Mary Meigs’s] body is palpably slowing down, her mind is very much alive, as evinced in her wit … She is capable of word games and of creating a humorous dialogue between her fallible mind and index finger. However, her real strengths are virtues of drama, colour (a painter’s mother tongue), and passion that are distilled in succinct images. Creativity trumps gerontology in her case.”
— Globe and Mail
Finalist for the 2006 Lambda Literary Award
About the ContributorsMary Meigs
Born in Philadelphia, writer and painter Mary Meigs wrote her first novel, Lily Briscoe: A Self-Portrait, at the age of 60. For the next two decades, Meigs chronicled her extraordinary life as a writer, a painter, an actress, a social activist and a lesbian feminist. In 1988, Meigs played herself in the critically acclaimed film The Company of Strangers, which resulted in the publication of In the Company of Strangers (1991), a fascinating work documenting her experience during the production of the film. Mary Meigs died in 2002 at the age of 85, shortly before the completion of Beyond Recall.Lise Weil
Lise Weil was founder and editor of the feminist literary review Trivia: A Journal of Ideas based in North Amherst, Massachusetts. In 1988 and 1989, two issues of the journal were devoted to the Montreal International Feminist Book Fair of ‘88. Mary Meigs’s work appeared in the first of those issues, which focused on Quebec women writers. Weil moved to Montreal in 1990; since then her fiction and essays have appeared in numerous magazines in both Canada and the US. She has been a regular reviewer for The Women’s Review of Books and a literary translator from both French and German.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.