Saudade - Possibilities of Place
(Coach House Books)
Anik See doesn't see very well. Or, she doesn't look that hard, letting her eye and mind rest on the well-worn, scuffed surface of the world around her. Which is surprising considering her essays claim to be about the possibilities of place. In one essay, about how she came to work in "ld-fashioned letterpress printing," instead of exploring and animating a sense of the trade for the reader, she turns the piece into a regurgitation of that old flabby falsehood that only in America do people have the drive, the ambition, to make the most of opportunity; only in Canada do people not make the most of opportunity because they're just too polite. Give me a friggin' break. See writes of the centre in Minneapolis where she first trained: "It was a permissive atmosphere that encouraged exploration, redefinition of paradigms, with equipment that was no longer easy to find. Freedom. Excellence. I cast everything aside. I did not sleep for days. This was not Canada." Has she never stepped foot in one of the artist-run centres, where this kind of art and labour is taught all the time, in her life? She designed this book too, which will strike many for its similarity with editions from Gaspereau Press. All of which makes you wonder where the original thinking is here.