All That Is Solid Melts into Air

Carole Giangrande. Inanna (SPD, U.S. dist.; Brunswick Books, Canadian dist.), $22.95 trade paper (236p) ISBN 978-1-77133-361-0
Giangrande (Midsummer) sensitively delves into the effects of the 9/11 attacks on one family. Valerie ventures from Toronto to the French island of St.-Pierre to contemplate her future, worrying that her 30-year marriage to Gerard, a freelance journalist, might be over. While on the island, she hears news of the World Trade Center attack. Gerard is on assignment in New York, and Valerie’s son, Andre, and Andre’s partner, James, both work in the WTC’s ill-fated towers. Overcome by the situation, Valerie is thrust backward through the events of her life: her origins in New York, her first time meeting Gerard in Montréal at a time when each of them faced a tragedy—he having lost his first love in the Swissair bombing of 1970, she having been abandoned while pregnant with her first child. Giangrande never uses the imagery of 9/11 for gratuitous shock, taking a somber tone as Valerie vacillates among confusion, horror, and self-deception while she waits—surrounded to surreal effect by the mundanity of everyday life—to hear of the fates of those closest to her. This is a softly unsettling book, effective in showcasing the confusion that follows such a personal yet public crisis, but it occasionally veers too far into esoteric, poetic detachment. (May)
Reviewed on: 07/03/2017
Release date: 07/01/2017
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