Hercules By My Side

This is a haunting and strange little book. The narrator/main character is a woman whose life has spanned three centuries. It follows her interior monologue for roughly 24 hours, including an odd television appearance and an epic trip to the store to buy a microwave. The book’s premise is confusing at first, but ultimately endearing. The narrator’s single-minded devotion to Hercules is the source of much of the humour, and yet it can still be moving. For all her strangeness, the reader becomes very quickly attached to the feisty old woman, channeling an ancient Greek hero to get through her day. A little more time could have been taken by the author to explain where the reader is from the beginning, but this oversight is not as jarring as it could have been. However, after all the industry and whimsy of the story, the book ends on a sad note. Perhaps it is meant to mirror the stages of human decline, or merely to posit life and death as acts of will. Even with this wistful denouement, the sly bravado of the tale makes it worth a read. (J. Blackmore)

chapbook, Marvyne Jenoff, $6, Twoffish Press, Box 1415, Toronto, ON, M4P 3J7, home.istar.ca/~mjenoff

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