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Abortion rights are human rights, and these books speak to the past, present, and future of abortion in Canada.
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Deep Salt Water is a stirring memoir about loss and abortion, expressed through the layering of imagery from the ocean. In detail at once sensual and sophisticated, Apostolides unfurls the emotional experience of a love affair and unwanted pregnancy, the abortion itself, and her reconnection with the man seventeen years later–a rekindling of love which stimulates this gentle attempt to come to terms with the abortion and its consequences. Moving from a place of intense intimacy to an outward focus that engages with the broader world, Deep Salt Water discusses abortion in all its complexity, rejecting polarizing rhetoric in favour of the unfathomable truths that women hold in their bodies.
With 9 full colour plates of mixed media collage by Catherine Mellinger.
Praise for Deep Salt Water
“…an intoxicating, accretive reading experience, shot through with recognizable truth and a clever use of the splice of precision and interruption to deliver them.” –Anakana Schofield
“Deep Salt Water is intimate and sensual, tidal and saline–how can a book be tidal and saline? These words make sense within the environment of the book. Apostolides’s language is not of pristine nature but of the anthropocene, our current geologic age of bleached coral and oceans choking on plastics. In light of man-made climate catastrophe, learning this language takes on added urgency.” –Jade Colbert, The Globe & Mail
Middenrammers is a brave and provocative novel about one doctor’s battle for social justice in a small-town hospital. Set in the UK in the 1970s, the story follows young Dr. Brian Davis’ efforts to adjust to his new job in a Yorkshire fishing town. The town’s only hospital permits no contraceptive advice, or abortions. Dr. Davis and Woodie ? the midwife he falls in love with ? regularly come face to face with the terrible repercussions of these policies. Because they refuse to accept the attitude of the hospital administrators? who believe that the right thing to do is to restrict choice and deny reproductive options ? the course of their lives is changed as much as those of the patients.
Told in graphic detail, the novel drives home the link between reproductive rights and social justice, while reminding us that a few decent people can make a world of difference.
Following an awkward sexual encounter under a wharf in outport Newfoundland, sixteen-year-old Rowena Savoury travels to St. John’s for a secret abortion. But in the early 1970s, the procedure is illegal, and after complications, Rowena finds herself in a hospital being questioned by a young constable who is uncertain of how to proceed. Though she doesn’t know it, Rowena’s decision will ripple through the lives of an entire cast of characters. Patient and luminous, Night Ambulance is the story of a place on the cusp of change, where characters stand between coercive societal expectations and the right to decide their own fates.
A CNQ Editors’ Book of the Year
A Dropped Threads-style anthology, assembling original and inspiring works by some of Canada’s best younger female writers — such as Heather Birrell, Saleema Nawaz, Susan Olding, Diana Fitzgerald Bryden, Carrie Snyder, and Alison Pick — The M Word asks everyday women and writers, some of whom are on the unconventional side of motherhood, to share their emotions and tales of maternity.
Whether they are stepmothers or mothers who have experienced abortion, infertility, adoption, or struggles with having more or less children, all these writers are women who have faced down motherhood on the other side of the white picket fence. It is time that motherhood opened its gates to include everyone, not just the picture postcard stories.
The M Word is a fabulous collection by a talented author and blogger, which is bound to attract readers from all walks of motherhood. The anthology that presents women’s lives as they are really lived, probing the intractable connections between motherhood and womanhood with all necessary complexity and contradiction laid out in a glorious tangle.
It is a book whose contents themselves are in disagreement, essays rubbing up against one another in uncomfortable ways. There is no synthesis — is motherhood an expansive enterprise, or is motherhood a trap? — except perhaps a general sense that being a mother and not being a mother are each as terrible and wonderful as being alive is. What these essays do show, however, is that in this age of supposed reproductive choice, so many women still don’t have the luxury of choosing their mothering story or how it will play out. And those who do exercise choice often still end up contending with judgement or backlash.
The essays also make clear that women are not as divided between the mothers and the childless as we might be led to believe. Women’s lives are so much more complicated than that. There is mutual ground between the woman who decided to have no more children and the woman who decided to have none at all. A woman with no children also endures a similar kind of scrutiny as the woman who’s had many, both of them operating outside of societal norms. A woman who has miscarried longs to be acknowledged for her own beyond-visible mothering experiences, for the baby she held inside her. And while infertility is its own kind of journey, that journey is also just one of so many whose origins lie with the desire for a child.
Longlisted for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize
Shortlisted for the 2021 Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction
Shortlisted for the 2021 Concordia University First Book Prize
Le Grand Prix du livre de Montreal: 2021 Jury Selection
A remarkable debut about intergenerational female relationships and resistance found in the unlikeliest of places, We, Jane explores the precarity of rural existence and the essential nature of abortion.
Searching for meaning in her Montreal life, Marthe begins an intense friendship with an older woman, also from Newfoundland, who tells her a story about purpose, about a duty to fulfill. It’s back home, and it goes by the name of Jane.
Marthe travels back to a small community on the island with the older woman to continue the work of an underground movement in 60s Chicago: abortion services performed by women, always referred to as Jane. She commits to learning how to continue this legacy and protect such essential knowledge. But the nobility of her task and the reality of small-town life compete, and personal fractures within their group begin to grow.
We, Jane probes the importance of care work by women for women, underscores the complexity of relationships in close circles, and beautifully captures the inevitable heartache of understanding home.
Inspired by Judith Jarvis Thomson’s philosophical thought experiment “The Violinist,” What Happened to Tom?? is a psychological and philosophical thriller, a horror story that any one of millions of people could, at any moment, experience. Tom, like many men, assumes that since pregnancy is a natural part of being a woman, it’s no big deal: a woman finds herself pregnant, she does or does not go through with it, end of story. But then Tom wakes up to find his body’s been hijacked and turned into a human kidney dialysis machine. For nine months he has to stay connected to Simon, a famous violinist, or Simon will die. Tom finds he is powerless to take legal or medical action to deal with the situation. He loses his girlfriend, his car, his apartment, and eventually his job as an architect. At the end of the novel, he has lost almost everything he holds dear and his life is completely, and irrevocably, derailed, and entwined with that of a violinist who no longer wants to work. Considering this situation analogous to an unwanted pregnancy, What Happened to Tom? is ultimately a feminist allegory about women’s reproductive rights.