canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999

Choose Me
by Evelyn Lau
Doubleday Canada, 1999.

Reviewed by Michael Bryson

Evelyn Lau dedicated her last book, the novel Other Women, to John Updike with whom she admitted in reviews to being "half in love with." The desire was at least partly stylistic. Lau has always written like an angel. 

In her new short story collection, Choose Me, however, Lau falls into an all too common blunder: beautiful prose expressing less than interesting ideas. It's a fault that befalls many writers known as much for their rhetorical skill as for the substance of their writing (Updike is one). 

Lau's writing career began with a bang with the release of Runaway, her diary from her days as a teenaged prostitute, which was quickly followed by the release of three volumes of poetry ranging from the gritty to the sharply polished. 

Her early writing, including the excellent Fresh Girls, her first short story collection, was hotwired by its lack of sentimentality and its almost documentary vision. In her later work, Lau has attempted to sketch on a larger sociological canvas, following mentors like Updike, John Cheever, even F. Scott Fitzgerald, as some critics have noted. 

In Runaway Lau was writing from the inside out; now she's on the outside looking in. Readers will have to decide for themselves which is more interesting: street kids chasing drugs or the upper-middle class rummaging through empty, meaningless affairs.







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ISSN 1494-6114. 


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