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A Grammar of Endings

by Alana Wilcox

A Grammar of Endings, the first novel from Toronto author and editor Alana Wilcox, explores, in letter form, an unnamed woman’s grief over the breakup of her love affair with Aidan, to whom the extended letter is addressed. Passages from the love letters of writers such as Henry Miller and Keats are interspersed throughout the text, and periodic flashbacks to the narrator’s relationship with her dead father provide emotional continuity of character.

Wilcox’s prose conveys the intimacy and sincerity of a letter never intended to be read. Linking her plight to the grammar, syntax, and complexity of the written word, the narrator floods the reader with similes and metaphors involving books, writing, and libraries. The images sometimes adopt a claustrophobic quality that mirror the writer’s sense of despair: “A semantic strangulation, a cloying adherence to the constraints of grammar, the paralysis imposed by structure.” Unfortunately, by the novel’s conclusion, there is little improvement in the narrator’s condition – the chasm of regret seems to swallow her abruptly.

As powerful as many of Wilcox’s images are, she offers too much of a good thing. The reader is overwhelmed by imagery that begins to sound increasingly forced, coming in short, sporadic bursts that often seem disconnected from novel’s action. Interactions with the novel’s few other characters are also bland. One is left wishing that the letter writer had controlled what she calls “the relentlessness of this ending, the way it is always beginning again.”


Reviewer: David Roxborough

Publisher: The Mercury Press


Price: $17.95

Page Count: 152 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 1-55128-086-8

Released: Oct.

Issue Date: 2000-12

Categories: Fiction: Novels

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