I am grateful for Lisa Moore.
If you are a fan of Canadian literature, specifically those written by Atlantic Canada’s writers, you will know who Lisa Moore is. You will know she was nominated not once but twice for the prestigious Giller Prize. You will know that she has written several short story compilations. You will know that she was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, that she won the commonwealth Fiction Prize. You will know that she recently won Canada Reads with her novel February. This merely scratches the surface of the many acknowledgements she has received for being a fine writer.
What you may not know is that when Lisa is thinking, when she is searching her thoughts for the right words, an answer, a comment, a thought, she twists her hair; she pulls her hair up off her neck and twists it into a knot that will stay for a minute or two before collapsing and then she will twist again. She is deliciously bold, frank, gentle but certain. She has eager eyes that are filled with curiosity and wonder and she sits up very straight when she is keen to say something. She is a generous mentor, an encouraging critic, a trusted reader.
What you also may not know is her latest work of fiction, Caught, has just been released by House of Anansi Press, and is waiting for you on your favourite bookstore’s shelf. I had the great fortune of hearing Lisa read from this work and explain to her audience the how and why she came to write this novel that at first glance seems a step or two away from what we might consider “classic Lisa Moore“, but I assure you, she is very much on these pages. Lisa told those gathered at Acadia University in Wolfville that she was drawn to write the story because she found the concept of freedom perplexing and wondered what freedom really means in her characters’ lives, in her life, in all our lives. She had heard over and over the real life story that her novel parallels slightly, a story repeated by Newfoundlanders with a sense of awe, a story about young men challenging the “rules” and “fear” in their quest to import the largest shipment of pot ever to land on Canadian shores.
If you haven’t read February, you must. If you haven’t done war with grief, you will, because none of us can be among the living and not have been knocked down by grief. Lisa Moore put the very essence of grief on the page, used words so skillfully that the reader can feel grief against her skin and draws grief in with each breath. And when you’ve read February, then you must read Caught and you’ll witness Lisa Moore flexing her literary muscle.
When someone asks you what you are reading, the name Lisa Moore will roll off your tongue and you, too, will be grateful.