canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999

Clinging to Water
by Joy Hewitt Mann
Boheme Press, 2000

Reviewed by Jonathan J. Sherer

Memories are more akin to water than we may first realize. They are all at once real and tangible, but yet they stream in and out of our consciousness like a bubbling brook over the stones of our lives. That memories are beautifully tragic and fleeting is deftly illustrated in Joy Hewitt Mann's short story collection, Clinging To Water

Water figures prominently in this collection, and its life-giving properties are alluded to in each of the stories. Most of the stories are constructed in a dreamy narrative about the loss of a loved one. In "Song of the Sea" a young woman confronts her father and his abandonment for the sea after returning home for the funeral of her mother. In "The Hand of the Robot" a caregiver rediscovers his own value after his father's death while caring for an elderly woman. In "Fly Away Home" a friend comes to terms with his relationship of a cripple's suicide. In "All About Maggie" a husband realizes how little he really knew about his departed wife. In "Butthead and Bea" a young man remembers his tough older sister. 

Most of Mann's stories revolve around the relationships of our dearly departed, but they are not limited to family - characters include a raccoon in "Raising the Dead" and a palsied loner living in the woods in "Peter Pan in Bedlam." Her stories are fleeting, like our memories tend to be, but there is a yearning to linger a little longer with these characters as they begin to heal. 

Trying to cling to water, to contain it, is impossible to do, as is our ability to suppress our memories and feelings of our fragile life. Clinging To Water will leave you clinging to your own memories, and cradling your dreams, never allowing you to forget that you are not alone.

Jonathan J. Sherer is out there somewhere.







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ISSN 1494-6114. 


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