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Monday July 5, 2010 in Books
Composed of autobiographical stories that sketch the resonant heights and depths of a memoir, Subject to Change is a series of portraits along the road of a life well-lived. Each story is an articulate, intelligent, passionate record of how an encounter with a significant “other,” be it a parent, a lover, a neighbour, a child, a grandchild, a politician or a friend, has changed and shaped the humanity, character and community—the “subject”—of the writer.
These are masterfully crafted stories: attentive to detail; conscious of the fact that our eccentricities often mask precisely what is authentic in our lives; and aware that a finely honed empathy is as likely to cause exhilaration as to cause pain. It is precisely this uncompromising empathy of Rodin’s voice that lends a sense of profound drama to the lives of the “ordinary characters” she reveals in these stories—a voice that knows how to take a measure of those characters on their own terms, to let them speak for themselves and to report on what both shakes us to the core and transports us to a place where we seem larger than ourselves.
Renee Rodin has said that: “Throughout my life I’ve had the privilege of peace and have never seen, unless in the media, the ravages of war, what people have had to live with, or die because of.” Subject to Change reminds us that the most vital moments of recognition in our lives come from those with whom we share our hopes and dreams.
It is Rodin’s masterful ability to show the reader that things we usually think of as too ordinary to talk about or too extraordinary to be able to communicate to others are often the most formative elements of our social lives that make this book such a great read.
ISBN 13: 9780889226449 | ISBN 10: 088922644X
5.5 W x 8.5 H x 1 D inches | 160 pages
$18.95 CAN / $18.95 US
Backlist | Non-Fiction | Bisac: BIO001000
QUOTES OF NOTE
These short narratives may move with the whimsy of anecdote, but are rich with consequence. Rodin renders a full range of human possibilities: from the profound and fragile bond between a daughter and her dying father to the halting and ambivalent connection between a mother and the predatory young man who adopts her as a surrogate. Always fluid, always seeking, Rodin’s prose in these embodied snapshots offers up a complex and fascinating contemporary world.
— Anne Stone
Here is a clear-eyed account of a life lived with passionate commitment to community, family, and the undying need for social justice. Renee Rodin’s candid voice opens up dark seams in contemporary life even as it lightens them with a quick sense of the surreal in the serious. We need her gritty mix of pathos, anger, and deadpan humour to look at what we often overlook in our daily connections both sought and unsought. Here are pages that moved me deeply and pages that made me laugh out loud.
— Daphne Marlatt
Renee Rodin’s writing is stunning in its clarity and the depths of emotional resonance that it draws from. Each word that unfolds is a gift that she brings to imagination—both the terror and the awe-full fragile beauty that the process of living discloses. It’s all so singular yet what she writes speaks to me in and beyond language. A truly beautiful book!
— Roy Miki
Renee Rodin lives the life I would try to live if I had the time. Luckily for us, she tells the stories that such a life provides. Take the time to read one tonight, and another tomorrow night. I’ll meet you there.
— George Bowering
“The intensity, care and wit that Renee Rodin brought to years of cultural and other activisms is now honed into a distinctive voice—funny, relaxed, passionately intelligent, deeply attentive to reality.”
— Stan Persky
“Renee’s style is spare yet elegant, her narratives deceptively simple. And what a life! — enriched as it is by her arrangement of it, as literature.”
— Michael Turner
"…a delightful testament to the complexity of people and the many roles we play in our lifetimes."
About the ContributorsRenee Rodin
Writer, visual artist, and cultural worker Renee Rodin was born and raised in Montreal. Her writing has appeared in numerous periodicals, and her visual work, generally photographic, has been displayed widely. Her piece in the exhibition Fear of Others—Art Against Racism toured North America in 1990.
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.