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Blais, Marie-Claire.

Toronto, Lester & Orpen Dennys, c1985. 176pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-88619-0584. (International Fiction List) CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by donalee Moulton-Barrett

Volume 13 Number 4
1985 July

Governor-General's award winner Marie-Claire Blais is back with a vengeance. In her novel, Anna's World, she explores contemporary life and focusses her penetrating energy on youth.

It is not a pleasant picture. Blais looks at teenagers by creating Anna, an introspective, alienated teenager without hope. Anna has experienced what life today has to offer and rejected its premise. There is really no point in going on. We are all going to die, if we are not already dead, is Anna's philosophy.

Anna and her friend Michelle have experimented with drugs and sex, they have taken the obligatory dance or music lessons in an attempt perhaps, to find some meaning in their existence, but they remain essentially alone and empty. They are not bored; they are without hope, without hope of finding peace or even living long enough to begin the search.

. . . Anna thought, while life's relentless activity went on around us, this aggressive life never stopped, like cars driving over a bridge or people's footsteps on the street, but there were also the dreams you dreamed at night, that left you with a spectral memory, it was with our nocturnal bodies that we could finally rise up from the earth, tear through that blue of sky we gazed at complacently during the day, but what comfort did this blue sky offer us, it didn't quench men's thirst or satisfy their hunger, at night the sky acquired a fragrant texture, like bread, and all painful sensations fell back to earth, the sky opened and we ourselves directed our minds towards knowledge, a new learning that meant grasping at last, that indifference is life's one sublime quality, that all pain is experienced in vain. . .

Anna's indifference to life is chilling, often terrifying, primarily because Blais convinces us that this is not just reality for Anna, but represents life for many young people here and now. Blais never lets us escape from this fact, nor the fear. Anna's World opens with it: "It was neither warm nor cold in Anna's heart, neither cool nor blazing, it was empty."

donalee Moulton-Barrett, Halifax, N.S.
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