By Carlyn Schellenberg
Welcome to issue 27, the first women-only issue of the Winnipeg Review! For this Spring issue, we’ve decided to showcase women writers in our ongoing commitment to provide fair and diverse representation.
We’ve focused on novels and short-story collections written by women, reviewed by women. The books and writers we’ve featured address a range of women’s issues. Andrea MacPherson’s latest novel, What We Once Believed, offers diverse depictions of motherhood during the second wave of feminism in the ’70s. Charlene Van Buekenhout writes that several stories in Eva Crocker’s short-story collection, Barrelling Forward, expose the horrors of sexual harassment women face. Our New Work section offers Casey Plett’s “What to Call You,” a story about a trans woman who engages in sex work as she navigates her identities while traversing the Canada-U.S. border. Monia Mazigh’s second novel, Hope Has Two Daughters, follows two women during two different historical revolutions in Tunisia.
By the end of this issue, you may ask yourself what you want in a story, or in writing a story. In her review of Zoey Leigh Peterson’s debut novel about a couple in an open relationship—titled Next Year, For Sure—Liz Harmer finds her answer:
Kathryn walks through the city late at night “to watch people make choices, to see how people lived.” In one passage characters spend a while trying to find a particular book—by, as it happens, Annie Dillard—to find the line that describes something so perfectly. And so, this, this is what I want from a novel. To watch people make choices, to see how they live, to find a line that perfectly describes some single thing, art so like life that I want to imitate it in my life and in my art.
Rudrapriya Rathore interviews Barbara Gowdy on her latest novel, Little Sister, in which protagonist Rose begins to inhabit another woman’s body. Rathore writes that the novel “powerfully gestures toward the moral problems with which writing and storytelling are always faced. Rose’s inner life is made complex by her writerly propensity for creating fictions as a way of investigating reality.”
Story collections—which to me are so often subversively relegated to minor-league status among debut fiction writers in particular (anybody can do it, it’ll never make money, no one will know your name)—can often do more than novels, using disparate names and settings to build a holistic mosaic in a way that novels just can’t. Where ensemble casts often feel scattered and hectic to me in novels, a chorus of like-minded protagonists in story collections weave together into something powerful.
In the feature article, author Jane Eaton Hamilton writes, “I don’t look to non-fiction writing to function as catharsis, but rather to explicate the tangle that is my life, that is my traumas, to make of that mess artifacts, comprehensible and clear.”
As spring in Winnipeg continues to peek out at us, check out new reviews weekly on the website. It’s also time that we hear from you, our readers! We have a readership survey, and we’d really appreciate your input on the quality of our editorial content. Please take a moment if you can! You may win some free books!