At first I was skeptical about The Girls Who Saw Everything for the following reasons: (1) this book about a young women’s book club is written by a man; (2) this young women’s book club performs literary scenes, not in a theatre but in their lives, sometimes even involving unsuspecting strangers; (3) elements of the story include a robot, ancient cuneiform Gilgamesh stones and the Baghdad Blogger.
The voices of the narrators (yes, there are two, though they mainly speak as one) throughout the book are so colloquial and contemporary that it is almost difficult to take them seriously. But before I knew it, the Lacuna Cabal Montreal Young Women’s Book Club’s unique characters and the fantastic events in their lives became captivating.
In the streets and buildings of Montreal, they recreate The Epic of Gilgamesh (an ancient and epic story recorded on tablets from Mesopotamian times) from the cuneiform stones they regard as the first book ever written. Riddled with references to literature through out centuries and contemporary pop culture, this story is more than the words contained within the covers.
The Girls Who Saw Everything is fast paced, witty and engaging. Major themes include the tension between genders, sex, violence, literature, and international politics. Note: Before reading this book, the narrators suggest you read their favourite book, Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion, which quotes The Epic of Gilgamesh, “Or dispense with the whole idea of reading altogether.” (Nancy Duncan)
by Sean Dixon, $21.95, 296 pgs, Coach House Books, 401 Huron Street on bpNichol Lane, Toronto, ON, M5S 2G5, chbooks.com