course" (17) is even more problematic. The discussions of several of these novels as both metafiction and metabiography are valuable, however, examining as they do "the critical and theoretical concerns of Shields's fiction in relation to women's autobiographical practices" (19). At times Beckman-Long takes too literal an approach to Shields's allusive and open-ended fiction. For example, the evidence that Beckman-Long presents to argue that the narrator of The Stone Diaries is Daisy Goodwill Flett's granddaughter, Judith, writing a kind of biography, is of necessity selective, with evidence omitted that might indicate the narrator is purposefully multiple and thus much more subversive than Beckman-Long's analysis suggests. Similarly, Beckman-Long equates Mary Swann with the real Canadian poet Pat Lowther, and while there are similarities in their life trajectories, Swann is not Lowther, and thus the novel Swann cannot be read as her biography. Despite this correlation, the chapter on Swann is perhaps the most compelling. Other chapters make persuasive arguments but are marred by sometimes choppy prose and a few misreadings, such as that the unknown woman of Unless immolated herself in Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, when the narrative makes it clear that one of the characters misremembered the
Western American Literature – The Western Literature Association
Published: Jul 12, 2017
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