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Inside Out

by Evelyn Lau

Vancouver writer Evelyn Lau has never been reticent when it comes to self-revelation. Inside Out, her second volume of memoirs (the first, the best-selling Runaway, was published when Lau was just 18) continues to document her very difficult – and very public – coming of age.

Some readers will approach Inside Out with trepidation, even skepticism. After all, does a writer just entering her thirties really merit a second volume of memoirs? And look at the white space, the narrow margins – why, this is nothing more than an article expanded through typesetting to fill a book. But Inside Out is far from short measure. In fact, it ranks with William Styron’s Invisible Darkness as one of the most harrowing and insightful accounts of depression and a writer’s life yet written.

Lau writes with an astonishing frankness, handling with clarity and occasional shocking beauty subject matter most of us would probably avoid or deny, even to ourselves. In this collection of personal essays, some previously published, Lau re-examines her time as a teenage prostitute and recounts her struggles with her parents and bulimia, her lengthy legal battle with W.P. Kinsella, and her ongoing struggle with depression.

Most significantly, the book is suffused with a sense of Lau as a writer, an occupation that seems to be simultaneously her salvation and her curse (she worries, for instance, that anti-depressants will destroy her creative drive). While there is no happy ending here – Inside Out is very much a life in progress – the closing passages, of Lau finding a home to buy, give a sense of stability, if not permanence.

In a time of memoirs simultaneously salacious, vapid, and victim-oriented, it is important to note that Lau never asks for sympathy or pity – her forthright manner simply presents material for our understanding and, one senses, for her own. Despite the book’s brevity, the reader comes away from Inside Out with a sense of how much life Lau has managed to express and reveal in its pages.


Reviewer: Robert Wiersema

Publisher: Doubleday Canada


Price: $29.99

Page Count: 256 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 0-385-25928-X

Released: Mar.

Issue Date: 2001-3

Categories: Memoir & Biography