Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

Yesterday I read a number of pieces of literary criticism. Two of the pieces I read concerned memoirs. Each piece commenced with a three paragraph introduction asking and discussing the question: what was the point of memoirs?

Both pieces appeared in the same publication. That the writers both began from the same position of inquiry and justification caused me to wonder if its not time to declare that we are living in the post-memoir-befuddlement era. They’ve been around about as long as goats have, so rather than wrestle with whether they should be around it could be more timely to talk about what new and revealing ways (if any)  they are presently around and floating past us.

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Curiously in reference to the aforementioned mem-justo-fication (or should that be fixation?) I was saddened not to be able to take in this week’s screening of On The Bowery here in Vancouver. I had been so looking forward to it, but I was able to view it on the small screen. The film intersperses actual documentary scenes from the Bowery with slices of a fictional drama. The drama extends from those scenes, so the actual life gives rise to a fictionalized departure from it. The documentary scenes, I found, very affecting, (the drama has an endearing stiff, mannered quality) perhaps because I have read so much about the place at that time or perhaps because 60 years later the same scenes are played out in most cities, except crack (in comparison) doesn’t afford even the minor dignity that being a street drinker did.  Those scenes with men splayed out, obliterated mid thought or sentence on the street and then rolled over and moved up and on are like a marker to compare to now. I was thinking watching them how tame they seemed and how much further addiction and poverty have and continue to diminish people. And the obvious question is how much worse is it going to get?

I also watched Nettie Wild’s documentary Fix: The story of an Addicted City this week and was reminded how hard people worked and advocated and fought for the Safe Injection site, how much progress has been made through it and how a bunch of morons (Harper’s Conservative govt) who have no willingness to examine the issue without their moral harnesses and presumptions are this week trying to roll things back to a time pre-even-that documentary.  Inconceivable and yet there it is. The documentary stands as one testament/testimony and the live coverage from the court another, a fresh contradiction. We don’t listen/We don’t learn/

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