I happened upon People You’d Trust Your Life To between high school and university. I was working full-time in a bookshop, reading diversely and enthusiastically, compulsively wandering the public library in the evenings.
I was scouring the “Just Returned” shelves (for P.D. James mysteries and the latest alphabetical adventure of Kinsey Millhone) and this short-story collection’s inviting tone made me curious.
The Margaret Atwood quote on the cover had some influence as well; I liked the idea of reading about people “so real you’ll think they live next door”. And the fact that a minor character in one story could be the main character of the next: that appealed greatly.
When I later discovered her poems and her thoughts on narrative form, my list of reasons to admire her work grew rapidly. My own work often ambles and circles and suddenly I understood why: a woman’s way of telling stories..
“Some of what happens in my poems is an attempt to capture how women’s conversations work, which is never linear but circles and moves around things.” (Interview with Janice Williamson)
“When two women take up their shared narration – on the bus, over coffee, on the phone – they’re already aware of the major plotlines. … So at each session they dive straight into updates, with no sign of a formal beginning. Nor are there many endings, since the story always breaks off at the point the narrator has reached in her life today. Mostly the plots consist of vivid, unresolved middles.” (Dennis Lee)
Yay for middles!