Just finished The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, by Heather O’Neill. Without revealing too much, I hope: I expected to like it, and really did. I responded rather viscerally to the twinship – having a twin of my own. It was interesting to see that fierce love and competitiveness played out from the perspective of fraternal boy-girl twins who’ve also known each other since “we didn’t have brains? When we were just heartbeats and thumbs?”
I found myself reading O’Neill’s English words with a French cadence, and feeling nostagia for a time in Quebec that I experienced first hand – though I lived in Quebec City and only visited Montreal. The idea of Separation and the looming Referendum were never far from conversations in the early nineties. Loved Nouschka’s voice, and although I found myself frustrated with some of her choices, often it felt like she had none… For someone who went to 13 different schools, it’s hard to imagine a girl who spends virtually her entire life on the island of Montreal. Despite the limitations (largely the men) in her life, Nouschka keeps pushing forward, creating opportunities for herself, while still loving the ones who stand in her way or hold her back. She even shows generosity toward her narcissistic father: “How lovely to be in a production of your life instead of being in your life itself.”
Finally, the imagery is so strong – as if Nouschka turns over every stone and has you crawl under it with her to see what’s underneath. I was squirming at points, imagining the smell of apartments filled with feral cats and crapped pants. Makes me want to reread Lullabies for Little Criminals.