The Time Being

S. K. Page

Why don't we hear more about the books of Mary Meigs, who is one of the great prose writers of our time? On her last tour she appeared in Vancouver for a single reading in a bookstore and then she was gone, uninterviewed and unsung. Did this happen in other cities? Why does her name not appear on the short lists for the big honours? Certainly her new book, The Time Being, deserves great notice and great honour; but we hear little about it.

The Time Being is not a thick book and it's not a heavy book; in fact, it's as light as air. I opened it up merely to browse, but after the first three pages I knew that I would not be doing it. Meigs has a way of making a story unfold that takes you into it without coercion or trickery: she has a perfect ear for the language and a perfect attention to her reader. As a result, the reader enters the story unconsciously, and continues to read in order to allow the story to be told as much as to see what happens next. What happens next in this case is the flowering and then the shrinking of an unlikely, almost impossible affair of love and age and loss that kept me up all night listening to it.

For days afterwards I could hear the sentences repeated as pure rhythm in some acoustic space of the mind. [Excerpts from this book appeared in Geist.]

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