my tragic right hip

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August 7th, 2011

#61 – Fair Play by Tove Jansson

There are so many things I am thankful for when it comes to my Vicious Circle book club. The ladies are amazing, intelligent and actually love to discuss books. But they are also so well read that it’s crazy — I am consistently in awe of all of the books, and authors, my friends  (and I feel privledged to call these women friends) know. Before the Vicious Circle, I had never heard of Tove Jansson. After book club, I can’t imagine my life without her.

I finished Fair Play last week and am still standing in amazement at its simple complexity. The story of two life-long partners, Jonna and Mari, the book consists of short chapters that follow the two women through their travels, the creation of their artwork, and their lives together in a small cottage on a far-away, solitary island. Their conversations are simple yet laced with meaning. Their actions are the same and Jansson, as Ali Smith points out so adroitly in the introduction, consistently plays with the interaction between love and work. The love, between these two women, feels both sisterly and romantic. They debate films with the heated intensity of siblings that are forever at odds with one another. Yet, they have a delicate, lovely cadence with one another — even when jealous rears its ugly head or the weather turns utterly dangerous — that can only come from a lifetime spent in love. 

Her observations may seem simplistic at first glance. Either character may come out with something so tangibly true that you can hardly believe it’s worth writing down. Yet, when read all together, these slender comments are imbued with the meaning that comes with a life well lived, an artist’s life, a life where you can spent too much time with someone or, well, realize there’s simply never going to be enough time to truly know another soul. These contradictions form the central crux of the novel. Anyone who has ever loved or tried to create something will understand these two women. They take on students that eventually run them ragged. They endure travel through America with crazy newfound friends (maids who rearrange their clothes and shoes, as well as the towels) who announce to entire bars to give them space because “They’re Finnish!”

There’s a sense of humour and a keen sense of human nature in these vignettes. There’s a moment when Mari, I think, after Jonna remains increasingly exasperated at her line of thought, says that sometimes the obvious just needs to be stated. In this world, full of gossip mongers and press secretaries and celebrity and the cult of reality television, where more and more of our world feels forced, made-up, and with little to no space for simple, creative thought (yes, Mayor Ford, I’m looking at you, jerk), this book reminded me that it’s importan

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Girl with titanium hip will rock. Girl with titanium hip will write. Girl with titanium hip will read. Girl with titanium hip will battle crazy-ass disease called Wegener's Granulomatosis. Now stuff that in your spelling bee!

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