Tonight at 8pm, Toronto’s Coach House Press launches its fall titles at The Dance Cave (529 Bloor Street West). Will there be dancing? Rumours abound of song requests and dance cards, but before any kicking up of heels the writers themselves will be taking to the dance floor to read from their new books:
Among these titles, the first to fall into this reader’s hands was Sina Queyras’s Autobiography of Childhood, a new novel by a writer well-known for her literary blog Lemon Hound and recent poetry collection Expressway (Coach House, 2009), shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for poetry. In Autobiography of Childhood, Queyras unfolds a painful story of loss: the Combal family confronts death, again, never having recovered from the trauma of death in childhood. Narrating through a latticework of perspectives—trying to uncover “the architecture of emotions”—Queyras circles back upon childhood: “There it hovers, childhood, at the bottom of the stairway, a grotesque reflection of the many unspoken anxieties of childhood, the in-betweenness of event, the sudden flashes of unnamed feeling, the confusion of body, the difficulty discerning where one thing begins and anther ends.” As the book’s title suggests, childhood becomes an embodied force in this narrative that asks what is real. In this forceful presence we feel the impact of childhood’s proximity, overhear its voice, or glimpse its spectral body hovering in a corner. “Childhood is in the air.” Always childhood, watching us, remembering itself here and now.