Title: Tell It Slant
Author: Beth Follett
Publication Year: 2001
Source: Borrowed from my classroom
From the cover:
Out of the pages of Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood and into a blustery Montreal weekend steps a modern-day Nora Flood, plundering vivid memories to uncover the roots of a sexual obsession that has her trapped in its sterile heart. Through the magical interventions of Barnes, Nora begins to undress her romantic illusions, so that her obsession deepens, pointing to a life she might claim as her own.
Yanno, I just re-read the copy from the back of the book, and realized that it’s totally useless in terms of telling you what the story is about.
Here’s a better version: A woman’s experiences and memories tell the story of her love and obsession for her girlfriend; this girlfriend loves her, but is also incapable of being monogamous, despite knowing that it hurts those around her.
If I had known what the story was really about, I still would have read it, and I would have been more “into” the story right from the beginning. The way it was, I spent a large portion of my time simply trying to figure out what the point was!
Having said that, I still really enjoyed Tell It Slant. It wasn’t the type of novel that I normally read – it was more literary, for a start, and also very disjointed in the way that stream-of-consciousness narratives tend to be. I want to say that it’s a “very Canadian” thing in a novel, but I don’t think it’s that way simply because it’s Canadian. Instead, I think the author does a very good job of placing the reader into the place of the narrator, feeling her desires and heartbreaks, understanding what it is that makes her story so important and so relatable.
This is a “lesbian” book, yes, but it transcends that. The two main characters are both women, but their sexual orientation – as opposed to their sexuality – is never really the focal point of the story. Instead, Follett focuses on the ups and downs of their relationship with each other and with those around them, the way they treat each other, and the hard realizations that the narrator has to arrive at.
Tell It Slant is definitely an interesting read, if you enjoy novels that are a bit non-traditional in their form. You might also be intrigued if you like Canadian writing or sexuality issues, which is why I originally picked it up from the shelf in my classroom. In the end, I enjoyed it, but I don’t think that it’s a book that everyone else would similarly want to read.