by Kim Junker
explores universal themes-racism, domestic abuse, rape, etc.-and the
impact these issues have on women’s lives. Dower’s stories
capture the essence of the battle women face in being true to
themselves - Should they remain silent and keep their secrets or speak
out and share their truths? What power do their words have? And what
power their silence? How can they find a balance between being trapped
and being free, and what responsibility must they take in creating that
writes in an easy-to-read style that immediately draws the reader in
and connects them with the characters, as if one is glimpsing the lives
of a neighbor up the street or one of their closest friends. Her
descriptions are brief but powerful: "It
hurts less if I think of her
as Faye" to
describe a character’s relationship with her mother or “…wrong
history on my skin” to
explain a white woman’s view of the
chasm between her and her black husband.
The stories conclude naturally
enough, allowing the reader to draw from their own experience and
create their own progression of events past the written word. However,
because the women’s struggles are ongoing, there really are no endings
to the stories, just natural places to pause and reflect before
resuming the activity of living.
favorite, Nobody; I,
describes the effects of racism and social isolation on one interracial
couple during the Vietnam Era, but particularly its effects on the
Caucasian wife. Traditionally empowered by virtue of her skin color,
the nameless narrator (perhaps knowing her name is unimportant because
the reader is only meant to see her through the lens of that time)
feels trapped (“…my shoulders ache from carrying his mood around with
me.”) and makes a decision leading to a devastating conclusion. This
woman was effectively silenced by the crushing weight of her cultural
inheritance and what she saw as an inevitable ending.
of mine is Deep Dark
Waves, an intense and disconcerting glimpse into
the “other” side of domestic abuse. As a guest speaker to raise money
for women’s shelters, a woman tells her story of abuse and the
kidnapping of her daughter by her husband. What she shares with the
audience versus what she shares with the reader will leave the reader
questioning their understanding of domestic abuse as well as the
“stories” women tell regarding their relationships and the secrets they
keep even from themselves.
has written an entertaining,
thought-provoking and sometimes disturbing collection of short stories
chronicling the lives of various women as they come to know themselves.
The stories are inspired by Shakespeare plays and, as an added bonus, Dower has included a Glossary of Terms for
story as well as a study guide which includes two sets of questions -
for those with knowledge of Shakespeare and the other for those
without- to stimulate reflection and discussion.
Although a brief summary of the Shakespearean play and the story it
inspired is included in the Study Guide, it is necessary to have more
than a rudimentary knowledge of the play to answer the "If you're into
Shakespeare" questions. If you are a lover of the bard, you will
appreciate the opportunity to delve into the parallels between the
stories. Luckily for the reader, Ms. Dower's stories stand alone and
provide questions for "If you're not" into Shakespeare that will also
stimulate discussion and reflection. I would recommend this
collection to anyone who values a woman’s complexity.
Intrigued? Read excerpts
from the collection on chapters.indigo.ca.
Junker enjoys writing poetry and short stories in her spare time and
has enjoyed reviewing stories on Zoetrope. She particularly likes the
short stories of Chekhov. This is her first opportunity to review a
newly published work and she finds it very challenging and rewarding.
Publisher: Inanna Publications
Dower has published her fiction in several journals such as Room of One’s Own, The New
Quarterly, Hemispheres, Cicada, NEO, Insolent Rudder and Big Muddy. She
lives in Canada.
with Tricia Dower
Buy this book (used or
Publisher's Website: Inanna
Distributor (SPD) Books
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you in the US
other reviewers thought:
Old Musty Books