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book review:

This One’s Going to Last Forever

There’s more than enough tragedy to go around in Nairne Holtz’s latest book, This One’s Going to Last Forever. From junkies and break-ups to new amputees search­ing for love in all the wrong places, there’s no shortage of pain and grief and loss. Yet something seems out of place when Holtz brings up the Montreal Massacre in her novella, “Are You Committed?” For all the fictional fear, sadness and pain, this refer­ence touches on real-life pain and suffer­ing, and it brushes it off like yet another fictional plot twist.

I want to appreciate the fact that Holtz sets her story in 1989-90 Montreal. I want to savour the ways she tries to capture life in my adopted hometown, at a certain point in history. But I am jarred by the clumsy insertion of a hugely horrifying real-life tragedy, which is ultimately treat­ed as little more than a plot device to get a questioning queer woman from point A to point B.

The scene is brief, seemingly negligible, but it should not be ignored. Women’s suffering should never be swept under the rug, and the senseless murder of 14 specific women should not be a mere footnote to history, nor a cheap transition in a fictional plot. It has been 20 years since the Mon­treal Massacre, and what has changed? Now we can make movies about it? Now we can mention it as a catalyst for a woman’s com­ing-out story? This is not progress. This is forgetfulness where we must never forget. Please tell me we haven’t already forgotten. (Laura Roberts)

by Nairne Holtz, $19.95, 224pgs Insomniac Press, 520 Princess Ave London, ON, N6B 2B8

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