Reviews

Can You Wave Bye Bye Baby?

Barry Kirsh

The storyteller's verve in Can You Wave Bye Bye Baby? (McClelland & Stewart), by the Montreal writer Elyse Gasco, speaks volumes in which time and place hardly matter. Gasco writes in the second person in four of the seven short stories; in one of these—the tide story, which won the prestigious Journey Prize in 1996—a woman leaves the hospital with her newborn and says, "You feel conspicuous with your package wrapped and bound like a crazy person being subdued. You wonder why there aren't more people like you wandering around outside the hospital doors with their various parts, tumours, amputated legs and breasts, ovaries, excess fat, fibroids the size of eggplants." The storyteller's insistence has an edge that saves the reader from becoming a complacent observer and the stories from becoming sentimental gossip. Alienation, adoption, family, marriage and death are all treated with respect and humour. In "You Have the Body," the mother of a son says, "You will try to introduce him to his feminine side"; when she discovers him secretly "prying open the legs of the doll," she says, "You will do the best you can. You will teach him about foreplay. You will put condoms in his lunch pail, hidden between the Twinkies and the trail mix." I hope Elyse Gasco will write a novel soon.

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