Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Into the English vortex

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, my immediate family and the extended family of my mother’s generation, for the most part, did not read. Oddly, this afforded me a particular kind of liberation as an aspiring writer. 

I think, subconsciously, I reasoned that if no one would read what I wrote, I would write about whatever I wanted to, free of reprimand or censure: teenage abortion, adulterous husbands, sexual abuse, bisexuality, miscegenation, violent love affairs, marital strife, abuse of children, cultural dislocation, blatant and subtle forms of racism.

Ah...the unlikely benefits of a book free home and adolescence! And, in print, I was bolder, ruder than someone who thought they might have a close relation peering over their shoulder as they wrote which I know has hampered some writers of my generation and background. No need to be nice or pleasant or dutiful. No more sweet stories about one's grandparents or the struggles of immigration and assimilation. A (Not So) Nice Italian Girl was born...

The likelihood that an older member of the family would pick up an issue of the literary journal The Capilano Review or the Journey Prize anthology or even an ethnic specific magazine like the now defunct eyetalian, was slim. If a book of mine was ever to be published, they would likely peer at it in wonder, politely ask for a brief précis (having had it filtered through an equally bewildered younger relation) and then, I’m sure, promptly forget about it.

I could rage against the villainous and forbidding elements of my young adulthood: sexual repression, xenophobia, sexism, into an English language vortex with impunity. I could describe and barely disguise that odious family doctor, that first deceitful boyfriend, that pinched, sadistic nun in grade school, that villainous male relation who tried to stifle me.

I could rage at, fume about, regret, sentimentalize, lust for, cry for, dozens of persons dead and alive, who would be none the wiser for it.

Initially posted in an altered format on February 14th, 2007 by descant.ca/blog.

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