Because I Have Loved and Hidden it

book review:

Because I Have Loved and Hidden it

Born in Brooklyn, NY, resident of Mon­treal, president of the Quebec Writer’s Foundation, editor of The Rover, and 2004and 2006winner of the CBC/QWF short story competition, Elise Moser has a unique presence in the publishing world. Because I Have Loved and Hidden It, as the title, taken from the poem “I Write” by Susan Elmslie, reads more like an answer to a series of abstract, persistent questions presented within the novel. The story starts with Julia at her mother’s funeral, which blooms into the uncovering of a family secret; Nicholas, the man Julia is having an affair with, disappears seam­lessly into geography; her elderly aunt and uncle become ill; and her distant, much older brother returns to her life. These things are so entangled within Julia’s life that the reader is as much at a loss as Julia seems to be. Perpetual oscillation between gaining and losing, longing and fulfill­ment forces Julia to measure these states of being against the things she thinks she knows for certain. Certainty, for Julia, is turning out to be in flux, “every inside she has found has been pregnant with its own outside, every entry the beginning of an arc ending in exit, expulsion.” And at the crux, in the swell of Moser’s prose, it is Nicholas’s wife who offers Julia comfort and intensity. Julia begins to understand the people around her in a much more profound way, as each absence unrav­els some sort of new consciousness: her mother’s death reveals a side of her fam­ily that she never knew existed; her aunt and uncle are dying, but they are the ones who can help piece obscurities together; Nicholas disappears, his wife, Deepa, emerges. As Julia revisits past encounters and attempts to sort through her mother’s death, she asks herself: “Why hadn’t she seen it while it was happening? How many other moments had she let pass, blinded by anxiety and self-consciousness?” Quite the question when pointed inward. With her debut novel, Moser intricately stacks images and metaphors, and Julia is left to arrange it all. (Brooke Ford)

by Elise Moser, $21.00, 248 pgs, Cormorant Books, 215 Spadina Ave., Studio 230, Toronto, ON, M5T 2C7

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