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Book review: Everything Rustles by Jane Silcott

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Everything Rustles by Jane Silcott

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It is a refreshing adventure to open a collection of essays that are exactly that: beautiful bursts of curiosity. To essay is to attempt, to make an effort (OED). Canadian author Jane Silcott presents an engaging array of attempts in essay form. Her efforts are honest musings of married life, being a woman of a certain age, and questioning her ability to understand the deep and personal.

'Everything Rustles' is divided into four sections: thresholds, semantics, graces, and receptors. From the first to last page, the author reveals inner and exterior dualities of growing into a life with grace and wonder. Every individual essay is succinct, but packed with emotion, a gazing eye, and an inner grounding. Silcott expresses the wisdom of a middle-aged woman with the curiosity of a young girl.

Silcott confesses a wandering eye, but more so a wandering mind. The “what if” that she abandoned when she made that choice, married this man, pursued this life, left this other behind. In doing so, exposed vulnerabilities become a call for camaraderie and compassion among fellow humans. Most of us have made a decision to take one path over another at some point. Silcott takes us down the possibilities of what was, the realities of what is, and still leaves room for an imagination to play and engage the reader.

…all my failings and flaws, are these moments all that sustain us? They seem too small, mere specks in time, iridescent, yes, miraculous, yes—but web thin, erratic, gossamer threads.
—from the essay “The Story Between Us”

Romantic and personal relationships are explored here, as are a woman’s relationship to her own body. With each essay, with each attempt to understand, Silcott poses her own naked questions in earnest and then explores the depths of her knowledge, includes research to consider alternate angles, and leaves some questions unanswered.

A writer, editor, and teacher, Silcott has been widely published in literary magazines and anthologies. Her work has been recognized by the CBC Literary Awards and the Creative Nonfiction Collective of Canada. ‘Everything Rustles’ is Silcott’s debut collection of personal essays, but it will hopefully be the first of many.

‘Everything Rustles’ is available from Anvil Press.

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