This Strange Visible Air

By (author): Sharon Butala

A collection of essays on women and aging from Canadian legend Sharon Butala.

“What I didn’t have a clue about was that I was soon to be old, or what being old would mean to my dreams and desires. While dreading old age with every fibre, I was at the same time in full denial that it would ever happen to me, and so, was shocked down to the soles of my feet when it did.”

In this incisive collection, Sharon Butala reflects on the ways her life has changed as she’s grown old. She knows that society fails the elderly massively, and so she tackles ageism and loneliness, friendship and companionship. She writes with pointed wit and acerbic humour about dinner parties and health challenges and forgetfulness and complicated family relationships and the pandemic—and lettuce. And she tells her story with the tremendous skill and beauty of a writer who has masterfully honed her craft over the course of her storied four-decade career.

Butala gives us a book to be cherished—an elegant and expansive look at the complexities and desires of aging and the aged, standing in stark contrast to the stereotyped, simplistic portrayals of the elderly in our culture. This Strange Visible Air is a true gift.


Sharon Butala

Sharon Butala is an award-winning author of more than twenty books, numerous articles and essays, poetry, and five published plays. She has three times been a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, and is a recipient of the Marian Engel Award, the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, the Cheryl and Henry Kloppenburg Award for Literary Excellence, and the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize. In 2002 she became an Officer of the Order of Canada. She lives in Calgary.


“A timely manifesto about old age, which Sharon Butala shows us is far more interesting than is commonly understood. Butala is a talented and original author who writes with lyric grace and a tantalizing touch of mysticism.” – Susan Swan, author of The Dead Celebrities Club

“Sharon Butala understands our never-ending need for control of our lives. She shows us how that need becomes more pressing when we’re under attack – and then with characteristic verve she defends us. I love how forthright, personal and thoughtful Butala is in her essays. It’s a pleasure to think alongside her. I cheered, argued, learned, admired.” – Connie Gault, author of A Beauty

“The insight embodied in this book doesn’t come free with age, but as the payoff for decades of fine attention, of impassioned curiosity. What good fortune that Sharon Butala commands an artistry capable of delivering this incredible bounty to us. There’s a candour and authenticity here of which one only hopes to be worthy.” – John Gould, author of The End of Me


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232 Pages
8.50in * 5.50in * .60in


September 13, 2021


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