Tag Archives: Lynn Crosbie

Lynn Crosbie – Life Is About Losing Everything

by Margaux Williamson

I’ve had the good fortune of becoming friends with the writer/academic/cultural critic Lynn Crosbie in the past few years; I have been a fan for much longer. Though she is famous for many things, there was something about her weekly column in the Globe & Mail that I needed and have always paid close attention to. In retrospect, I think, in some ways, her column was teaching me how to talk.

I remember, when I first started reading it years ago, I was living in a gloomy basement by the Leslie Spit and finishing George Elliot’s novel Middlemarch. Middlemarch has an unsual narrator – a narrator that is sometimes omniscient, sometimes addressing you directly, and sometimes trapped within the knowledge limitations that a typical literary character (or human) often has. The confidently wandering nature of the voice, to where it needed to go, was both thrilling and strangely subtle, both reckless and completely masterful. It was a hilarious voice to have in a novel where the main story arc involves an earnest and intelligent young woman, Dorothea, who wants to use her limited powers on this earth to aid the middle-aged Edward in finishing his great work The-Objective-History-of-Everything.

*SPOILER* (Edward turns out to be not-such-a-big-genius.)

I felt an actual sadness in letting this strange voice of Middlemarch go when I finished the 1000 pages. I’m a slow learner and sometimes 1000 pages isn’t enough to understand  a new thing. I remember feeling grateful that Lynn Crosbie’s column came every week – her deeply human and masterful voice was just as thrilling to me as George Elliot’s had been. I think Lynn Crosbie’s column helped me to learn, slowly and in my bones, that speaking clearly, from where ever you happen to be standing, with the information you happen to have, accepting of flexibility and imperfection, can be a thousand times deeper and more useful than the boring tomb of carefully constructed cliches that Middlemarch’s Edward hoarded and handed down with shaky authority from that fancy desk he had in his study.

In Lynn Crosbie’s column,  there are no qualifiers, there is no fear, there is no condescension, there is no sense that the topics or subjects aren’t heavy enough or in the proper location for the world’s spotlight and respect (or respectful wrath!). She is always just getting down to business, starting or participating honestly and earnestly and humorously in a conversation that she is invariably an asset to.

I was thinking about Crosbie’s work recently (and its effect on me) because, in April, I read her new book of poetic prose Life Is About Losing Everything. Though is about that, about losing everything, when you look up from the book while riding on Toronto’s Dufferin bus, everyone and everything looks so much more valuable.

Though I know her work very well, I was still kind of amazed at both the depth and the strange brightness of this book. Her heavy talent and heavy intelligence somehow makes her genius seem so light and natural. Maybe in a way it is, and it’s the living that’s so hard. It’s written in short chapters, and involves my always-favourite art project: how to take the bones of loss and meaninglessness and make meaning.

It is my favourite book of hers so far. I’ll be co-hosting the book’s launch, under The Production Front, along with House of Anansi Press at The Mascot on May 10th.

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Filed under books, events, literature, margaux williamson, poetry

Tea With Chris: Crows Keep Company

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Friday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Chris: Rich Juzwiak, hero of the internet.

Kelli Korducki writes about being a quote-unquote halfie: “I may rock the white priv, but it’s never sat so great.”

Is it weird that I want to know what Terry Riley and Big Boi ate when they were hanging out at Burger King?

Margaux: A masculinist of my own heart, boy uses logic and loopholes to get his legs into a breezy skirt. (thanks to Sheila Heti)

Speaking of Sheila Heti (friend of Back to the World and brilliant interviewer) – Sheila Heti and Ross Simonini from The Believer are hosting the event THE ART OF THE INTERVIEW at the New York Public Library tomorrow (Saturday) from 1 to 3 pm… with Dick Cavett, Lorin Stein, Kenneth Goldsmith, Claudia Dreifus, Simon Rich, etc! Should be great.

Speaking of boys and skirts, poor old Lars Von Trier – holed up in a hotel room somewhere in Cannes as Mel Gibson roams free. Poor old Jodie Foster. Society is weird.

I’m in the woods and the crows keep me company when I go running. This makes me think about them a lot. Here’s a great Ted Talk from Joshua Klein about just that. (thanks to Misha Glouberman)

Colourless food. Awesome. There should at least be a year where there is no food colouring. That would solve a few problems probably and would be a easy year to remember.

I just saw the refreshing and good movie “Bridesmaids”. There was a giant poster outside the movie house, where I saw it, advertising one of its competitors “Something Borrowed” with Kate Hudson. This reminded me of Lynn Crosbie’s hilarious critique of that movie using only the movie’s trailer “(try to tell me that’s not enough!)”.

Carl: I had a favourite Ted Talk this week too, not new but new to me, in which a brain-research scientist gets to examine her own brain in slow motion when she experiences a stroke, and the result basically has her talking like a psychonaut pioneer on LSD or ayahuasca: Apparently one hemisphere of our brain is quite aware that we are all made of energy and there are no real inside-outside boundaries and we are all joined by infinite love. The other side, well, it has language. (Thanks to Buffy Childerhose)

My favourite literary event in Toronto, and therefore in the world, is coming to an end: This week the Scream Literary Festival aka The Scream in High Park announced that this year’s 18th annual event would be the last. I’ve had the thrill of reading on the Scream’s mainstage and the pleasure of being in a bunch of its panels and hosting other events, and it’s always been smart, irreverent and nimble. It will be very sad next summer when it doesn’t happen. But for now, as they say on that link, there’s various kinds of helping hands they could use to shut ‘er down in style, so lend one if you can.

Nancy Updike had a beautiful piece on This American Life last week, about the meetings seemingly everyone in Egypt is having every day to try to plan the future of their society. If you don’t have a war after you have a revolution, this is what you get to do. (I admit it: I like meetings.) It’ll all come down to earth one day or another, of course, but what a spring it must be to be there and to be alive.

Speaking of revolutionaries: Here’s Roseanne. Love, love, love.

That Rapture thing: A bunch of critics pick music to die by.

Among the many nice things I got to do this week, the best was to hear Luc Sante talk about Robert Frank at the Art Gallery of Ontario. This article isn’t quite as wonderful as the talk was, but it’s got the gist.

Bad lipreading: “Party in the USA” -> -> “Black Umbrella (The Right Stuff).” (Thanks to Douglas Wolk)

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Filed under carl wilson, chris randle, linkblogging, margaux williamson