Jane Eaton Hamilton

"It was her mouth that had a hand over it, not her eyes." -Jane Eaton Hamilton

Category: novels

It’s a bit of a stretch, finding queer characters with physical disabilities, but Casey did

Yonder at Autostraddle, where I’m a contributing writer, Casey answered the call. I’m totally smitten with Leah Lakshmi Piepzna Samarasinha’s work, no matter its genre, and I look forward to reading the others here (the antho QDA is already on board). Check out the list here.

Mandy Len Catron recommends “Weekend” for love

If Mandy Len Catron recommended my novel “Weekend” and Khloé Kardashian recommended Mandy’s “How To Fall In Love With Anyone,” does that mean I should figure out who Kholé Kardashian is? Or does that just mean you should read Mandy’s book?

This week How To Fall In Love With Anyone” has been released. Mandy is the author who set the NY Times’ Modern Love column on fire with her essay about “36 Questions” to make a couple fall in love with each other, a column viewed millions of times. And now there’s a whole book of her writing!

CBC wanted to know what revs Mandy’s romance engine, and “Weekend” made the cut, with a nod to its dealing with disability issues.

Hopefully Mandy will be here on the blog with a Q+A soon!

Mandy Len Catron on offbeat love stories, and the one secret to relationships that last

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Snow

“Kaleidoscopic with fever. How many times hospitalized? Five, seven, nine? The hospital a place when I gave up, where I could give up, where giving up was the only possibility towards recovery. Me, white. The room around me, white. The curtains, white. The bedsheets, white. The nurses, white, in white uniforms and white shoes. The silting silting air white. My skull the white bone bars of an aviary; in it, white birds whitely swung on white perches while singing the whitest of songs by Sato Chiyako, Kuro Yori No Hana. Illnesses vague as snowflakes, white as snowlashes: there, then vanishing, then there again, then vanishing, until I could go home with my reluctant mother who hated to leave. Allergies, perhaps, or asthma, or an infection lurking in the dark shadows under my icicle skin, an interior boil filled with the pus of my living.

In order to see a thing, you need its opposite.

She cared for me the entire time I was hospitalized, leaving the other youngsters with a babysitter named Mrs Sumiko. At night she slept on a cot much lower than my bed, tossing under thin white sheets and white bedcovers and moaning when nurses with blood pressure cuffs, thermometers and stethoscopes woke me to see how well I was sleeping. Sometimes she would sit bolt upright and say, in nearly flawless English, “My daughter, how she is?”

And I knew I was loved.

She smoked leaning against the windows looking down at the parking lot. She could see winter from my window through the morning haze of her smoke, the sleeting sideways snow, the window crystallizations. Once, she brought me a snowball and placed it in my feverish hand until my fingers went numb.

And I knew I was loved.

In the morning, Kaachan pulled the white curtain and while I sat up, coughing from my weakened lungs, she unbuttoned my white cotton pajamas and slipped them from my shoulders. Tenderly, she pushed me down and lifted my hips so she could slide my bottoms off. I saw myself as if I was looking down from the white ceiling, each tile with holes the size of snowflakes, a scrawny child lost in a snowfall of sheets, my nipples the centres of cracking ice, my cleft the large footprint of a goose. Shoulders round balls, hip bones snow hills, knees knobby with moguls. She bent across two metal pans, one with soap suds, one with brook-clear water, two clean sponges floating. Devotedly, she washed me. My face first, her sponge nearly hot against my already hot head, my sizzling cheeks, but soon shivery cold, and as the sponge moved downwards, I puckered into gooseflesh and only wanted it all to be over so I could crawl back into my snow cave of white sheets. Rolling to my stomach, the process repeating, neck to toes, the sponge across the thin white ice of my back, across my buttocks like icicle scratches, down my legs prickly as ice skates, across my feet like chunks broken off ice flows.

The snap of fresh sheets.

And I knew I was loved.”

–Jane Eaton Hamilton, novel excerpt, “Snow”

Weekend trailer

The folks at Big Creature Media do it again! Thanks, Big Creature with magic fingertips!

 

 

 

 

On Writing Across the Curriculum

Magnolia2JEH

magnolia: Jane Eaton Hamilton, unknown year

Instead of asking me to repeat myself, why don’t you challenge yourself to expand? I am not ever going to make myself smaller, my talents fewer, my range tiny, in order to garner your praise.

The Rain Ascends by Joy Kogawa

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This haunting, elegiac novel by famed novelist Joy Kogawa, author of “Obasan,” pulls us into the world and the heart of a middle-aged woman learning that her beloved but aged father, an Anglican priest, has been a pedophile with 300 male victims. What is the capacity of one human heart? Can a lifetime of her father’s familial tenderness and community good deeds co-exist with his malicious, malignant sexuality?

“The Rain Ascends” is the story of the torment of one woman’s soul told in rendering, poetic language.

Joy Kogawa and I are friends. I briefly knew her father and had his Encyclopedia Brittanicas, 1904 edition, on my shelves for many years. We shared a long-lasting writing group during the years she was writing “The Rain Ascends.” Notwithstanding that, and the historical importance of her masterwork “Obasan,” I’ve always believed “The Rain Ascends” is Kogawa’s most brilliant work.

Today, after attending a “Shut Up and Write” session at Historic Joy Kogawa House on the weekend, I picked the novel up 20 years after first reading it to find it easily measured up to my original stunned appreciation.

Until last weekend, I’d been to Kogawa House only once before, but, unable to tolerate the fact that Joy’s dad had lived and likely abused children there, I left quickly; this visit I stayed and wrote about the feelings that arose in me as someone well acquainted with the harms of child rape.

Notes:

I understand Joy Kogawa has revised “The Rain Ascends” since the edition was published.

Joy Kogawa has since spoken to the press and her community about her father’s pedophilia. The Anglican Church, this year, offered an apology to the victims of his many crimes.

Historic Joy Kogawa House

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