A review of
By Martha Schabas
Doubleday Canada (2011)
Veiled in the joy of acceptance into an elite ballet school, Georgia, our protagonist, begins an exploration of beauty, body and desire. Various Positions discloses the darker world of desire and takes us on a journey that illustrates how strong desires can twist perceptions and remodel reality. Martha Schabas vividly portrays the sexual imaginings and the fiery desires of the young. Our protagonist deepens into her ever darkened and isolated journey creating scenarios of positions, words and motions of people that feed her obsession for perfect body, history, and friends, which result in longed for love.
I turned off the overhead light in my room and replaced it with my desk lamp and the lamp on my bedside table. I selected the timer setting on the camera and the automatic flash. I took off all my clothes and started taking pictures. I had no problem recreating Mandi’s position, sticking my bum up at just the right angle so that it was curved and taut and exposing the skin in between (265).
What swirls around these events is the philosophical questioning of ballet and other cultural constructs that affect body image, sexuality, love, and friendship. She struggles to recreate in reality the dreams she wants, all of it a terrific leap from innocence.
In an effort to abate her delusions heroes change, but dilemmas worsen and damage increases with most external efforts. Cracking open the vision to see her situation clearly is a self-endeavor.
And the truth I told was even better than the real one, edited of all its grey zones and uncertainties, so that not even the scent of responsibility could be found on him. I understand something at last, maybe what Roderick has always been trying to teach me: that the rules of the real world just aren’t suited to ballet. I’ve tasted something of this real world now and it is the saddest flavour imaginable, dreary as a piece of gum that’s been in your mouth too long, that’s been waiting to be spat against the sidewalk” (355-6)
Various Positions is an interesting and novel read especially if you have children; be prepared for some thought provoking moments that may even remind you of your own leap from innocence.
Exclusive FreeFall blog content! For more information about FreeFall Magazine visit the website.