by Deborah Rogers –
We had selected Liz Levine’s Nobody Ever Talks About Anything But the End to discuss at our March meeting. Unfortunately due to job action at the library, we have not held meetings in March or April, but I didn’t want this exquisite little book to go undiscussed. The book is a memoir of Levine’s life, focused around two dominating events: the loss of her best friend from cancer and her sister to suicide. With that description you might imagine a dark, heavy book, yet Levine’s approach to the subject matter leads you in with a light touch. She talks in her foreword about trying to make sense of her relationship with her sister, to “figure out where I went wrong, to become a detective in death.” It’s in the act of unpicking the stories from her past that she is able to look at both relationships, examine them, and start “learning what to do with all the feelings” she has.
The book is presented as a series of short vignettes, arranged alphabetically. If we had had our planned Q&A with the author, this format would have been one of the first subjects we asked her about. The structure seems arbitrary, yet the seemingly random titles (e.g. Ashes, Addicted, Naive, Nightmares, Ziplock, Zephyr) are hooks to hang a quiet revelation on. There’s no continuity in the timeline: we see Liz interacting with her friend Judson and sister Tamara at all different ages, and gradually build up a sense of not just those relationships but of course of the author herself.
Whichever format she might have chosen to tell it – Levine is a film and TV Producer as well as a journalist – her story would have been fascinating. Her family is full of strong characters and Liz is able to reveal humour in almost every situation. The readers from our group found power and comfort from the way that Liz’s complicated relationship with Tamara is treated. Several found resonances with losses in their own lives. I mention the humour, but grief is woven right through this book and Levine’s ability to face the subject head-on in her writing feels authentic and is extremely moving.
We have high hopes that Book Club meetings will resume this month, with a scheduled date of Tuesday May 10. We’ll be discussing award-winning poet, and North Saanich resident, Lorna Crozier’s Through the Garden: A Love Story (with Cats). Sign up to our Book Club mailing list to find out about upcoming meetings: seasidemagazine.ca/book-club