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February 3, 2021

And This is the Cure, by Annette Lapointe

So you could pitch it like this: imagine every Miram Toews book you have ever read—A Complicated Kindness, Irma Voth, The Flying Troutmans, All My Puny Sorrows, Women Talking, Summer of My Amazing Luck, Swing Low, I mean everything—all packed together in a single volume. Which is only misleading, because it makes it sound derivative, which it isn’t. So how about this instead: former cult member turned riot grrrl writes a tell-all memoir and finds fame as house of a Canadian broadcasting culture flagship pop culture radio show after its former host (a noted sexual predator) flames out in disgrace, but then her past life comes back to haunt her when her ex-husband is murdered and her estranged 11 year-old daughter is returned to her care, which means she’s forced to confront her ex’s conservative, religious family and their disdain for her, all the while she’s trying to stay on her meds and keep as stable as possible as she avoids confronting the trauma buried in her past, which does not necessary lie where she thinks it does…and then her band goes on tour in Japan.

And This is the Cure is the third novel by Annette Lapointe, whose first book Stolen was nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2006. I also really appreciated her second White Tail Shooting Gallery in 2013, writing in a blog post that the book, “baffled me throughout, disturbed and troubled me, but it also intrigued me, continually surprised me, never stopped me wondering what would happen next…” And the same stands for her latest, which I loved. A book that ostensibly should be too much—how can a person fit so many things into a single novel?—but which works, is eminently readable. Mostly because of Allison Winter, Lapointe’s stunning fictional creation, a woman who is shattered and still standing, flawed and perfect, terrified and brave, smart and ridiculous, loving and fierce, damaged and whole, missing and present. A singular creation: regarding her daughter as a baby, she says, “I’d happily have killed things for her, but I would have preferred her to stay at home, in someone else’s custody, while I did it… I’d have made a decent, if absent, father.”

She’s the trickiest narrator, withholding information about her story until the present drags it out of her. She’s also unapologetic with a ferocity that never wavers, and I love that. Her unreliability turns the novel into the most fascinating, many-sided shape, but her perspective is still a steady one, the compass point that guides the reader through so much stuff. A lesser writer would have had this whole book come off its rails, but Lapointe nails it, unbelievably. I loved it.

2 thoughts on “And This is the Cure, by Annette Lapointe”

  1. Thanks for recommending this book, Kerry, I loved it too! So Canadian, so readable. Very well-paced and wonderful characters.

    1. Kerry says:

      Wasn’t it cool??? Glad to hear other smart readers agree.

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