by Lisa Pasold
In a country whose name keeps changing, a woman longs to return to an imaginary past. Part fiction, part biography, part fairy-tale, Weave is a photograph that fell onto the rails when the story-teller changed trains. Or perhaps it slipped into the waves of the lake when her two-seater plane took off. Or she tore it into pieces and buried it in the woods, to keep it safe. Now she’s searching for her lost identity, from the banks of the Danube, to the port of Istanbul, to the frozen edge of Lake Ontario. She’s looking for some fragment of home to give meaning to her pile of passports, left like ghosts in the bottom of a drawer.
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Lisa Pasold’s first book of poetry, Weave, was hailed as a masterpiece by Geist magazine. Her second book of poetry, A Bad Year for Journalists, was nominated for an Alberta Book Award. Her 2009 novel, Rats of Las Vegas, was described as “enticing as the lit-up Las Vegas strip and as satisfying as a winning hand at poker” by the Winnipeg Free Press. Lisa has taught creative writing at the American University in Paris and led writing workshops in places such as Dawson City, Yukon, and Winter Park, Florida. Lisa grew up in Montreal, which gave her the necessary jaywalking skills to survive as a poet and travel writer. While working as a journalist, Lisa has been thrown off a train in Belarus, mushed huskies in the Yukon, and been cheated in the Venetian gambling halls of Ca’ Vendramin Calergi.
Her 2012 book of poetry from Frontenac House, Any Bright Horse, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award. The Globe and Mail has called her poetry “critical, darkly funny and painstakingly lyrical.” Her writing has appeared in a wide range of newspapers, magazines and anthologies including 100 Poets Against the War. She is the host and co-writer of Discovery World’s TV travel series “Paris Next Stop.”
Weave reads as a memoir of the twentieth century in a world bounded by Prague and Peru and the Russian Front and the shores of Lake Ontario. The narrator is a traveler and an exile, and she seems to be perpetually in transit. Her brother Wilhelm serves as mythical interlocutor, and we are led by their sibling love into and out of the darkness of Europe. Weave is quite simply a masterpiece: there is more in these eighty odd pages than in most novels.
~Stephen Osborne, <em>Geist</em>
One thinks immediately of Mavis Gallant’s Paris Notebooks, for example, as Pasold distills journalling or lifewriting to good effect.
~Anne Burke, The Prairie Journal of Canadian Literature
Pasold’s ability to capture the personal, the political and societal expectations of an era is impressive; the narrator telling stories “on an aeroplane or in a train compartment, as if we are hurtling / through a tunnel and / neither of us knows what is on the other side.”
~Rajinder S. Pal, This Magazine
Titles such as “there is no explanation suitable for a girl of 13 burdened by intellect,” “the reason I didn’t get a balcony” and “it was in Paris I bought Josephine Baker’s old shoes” adorn Weave’s delicious, at times cryptic narrative of a woman tracing her past. … This book addresses the complexities of war, nationality and national identity in the simple but clever accounts from a woman’s memory.
~Jocelyn Grossé, Fast Forward
The book fascinates on both narrative and lyric levels. Pasold never confuses feeling with sentiment, and she has a gift for memorable images which work together to form a poetic vocabulary … This book’s a keeper, one you’ll reread and read aloud.
~Harry Vandervlist, Alberta Views
A fictional memoir, it almost achieves the reach and breadth of the roman a clef or rites of passage novel and alternates between the intimate first-person monologue and more distant analytical lens of second person, creating the patchwork quilt and embroidery of the title.
~Richard Stevenson, Lethbridge Insider
Lisa Pasold’s language is so piercing and compassionate it made me catch my breath, and her knowledge of myth, symbol and history are as impressive as her understanding of the human heart. Individually, these are poems of great beauty and ferocity; read as a fictional memoir they are a myth-embroidered memory quilt; a narrative not only of a fascinating woman, full of exile, longing, and wit, but of a defining period in history. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
~Lauren B. Davis, author of The Stubborn Season
Weave is a book of poems that reads like a superb novel, flows like a thrilling movie, and is marked by moments of consummate wit and lyricism. Telling the story of an unforgettable 20th century life, Lisa Pasold has created compelling 21st-century poetry. Her Prague-born protagonist’s journey – through love, war, exile and the harrowing way station of memory – is, indeed, a beautifully-layered, intricately-textured and expertly-cut cloth. With this collection, Pasold surely establishes herself as one of the best younger Canadian poets now writing.
~Todd Swift, author of Cafe Alibi