by Shelley McAneeley
An Anthology of Fiction, Poetry and Creative Nonfiction
edited by Jane Cawthorne and ED Morin
Inanna Publications and Education Inc. (2017)
What to say or not to say regarding menopause? Cawthorne and Morin’s anthology compiles a melting pot of stories that traverse the emotional landscape of fear, embarrassment, loss, silence,
continence, disappointment, divorce, promiscuity, flight, pleads, and humour. It makes me wonder why women share so little of life’s major reproductive events, even amongst themselves. Here is an excerpt of humour that will be sure to make you cringe:
…the time she asked me to get slimmer “piss pads” for her because the sticky strip on the wide ones got caught on her hair.
“How did it get all the way up to your head,” I’d asked on the phone, and the next day she greeted me at the apartment door with a bladder-leak pad twisted into a bow over her ear. (123-124)
Secure in my own anonymity, this book places me safely behind the screen of a confessional where stories spill out pained recollections about lost fertility, beauty, cultural rejection and a host of other existential crises. The book swells with stories that reflect those fears that women have about getting older; about fertility inadequacies and the shame of aging. Some stories dive into personal pain, while others explore cultural issues. Many stories express sorrow, although, not all women express regrets about the arrival of menopause, some feel sheer relief to have reached the crone age.
The flight from the feminine self and the altered role of woman as crone verses seductress or mother is confusing, not just at the personal level but within family and culture. The study of menopause outside of hormonal science is barren. This taboo topic is not yet plumed. The book offers women an escape from isolation through sharing snippets. It permits women the opportunity to explore and join in a “tribe” of other aging women and offers relief in knowing that you are not the only one. It’s time to commence a discourse with each other.
Clear your throats ladies and speak up, your daughters wait. This is a daring book that tosses an emotional topic around like a hot potato. A roller-coaster read and a must for women of all ages.
Shelley McAneeley ponders the world of art in its many forms. She is a voracious reader and sometimes creator of poems. You can enjoy some of her poems in Drifting Like A Metaphor, edited by Micheline Maylor and available through Frontenac House (2018). She is a poetry editor at FreeFall Magazine.