Essays

Beyond Recall

Patty Osborne

If I'm ever eighty-two years old and homebound recovering from a stroke and a broken hip, I hope I'm as funny, articulate and fearless as Mary Meigs was when it happened to her. In the journal entries, correspondence and other writings she produced during the last three years of her life, gathered into the book Beyond Recall (Talonbooks), it is clear that Meigs contemplated the approach of death without fighting it or just sitting and waiting. She wrote about her cats, the friends who visited and cared for her, the weather, the birds and plants in her garden and a dream in which she flirted with Pierre Trudeau. She also wrote about cataracts, unreliable bowels, partial deafness, failing memory and loss of muscle control. Short, beautiful, poetic "freewriting" pieces are included, which Meigs created by starting with a line from a poem and writing for five or ten minutes without hesitating or stopping. Meigs and her lifelong friend Marie-Clare Blais also exchanged handwritten, illustrated faxes "written" by their cats, Mikey and Mouser, over many years. Meigs's friend Lise Weil compiled and edited all of this creative output into an elegant book so that the rest of us could have one last encounter with a remarkable writer.

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