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She’s Gonna Be: Stories, Poems, Life

by Ann Decter, ed

An anthology of feminist writing, She’s Gonna Be brings together a collection of long-time activists, alumnae of feminist journals like Fireweed, and a few new young voices.

It’s a great title and there’s a terrifically rousing introduction by editor Ann Decter, a smart and accomplished novelist (Honour and Paper, Scissors, Rock). “Women write anger, yes, and desire,” Decter notes. “Women write trueness, words truly aimed and flying to the heart… those clear, enchanting notes of the spirit.”

However, this collection rarely lives up to its radical promise. It doesn’t contain anything truly bad, but neither does it contain much that is particularly outstanding or unique.

Perhaps the problem is the political focus of the material. While topics like incest, violence, racism, and so on can be excellent fodder for fiction (see the novels of writers like Shani Mootoo, Kerri Sakamoto, and Ann-Marie MacDonald), in this anthology, the examination of these same issues falls flat. It’s too obvious and preachy.

More often than not, the writing in She’s Gonna Be seems designed for consciousness raising or self-esteem boosting – which is fine and noble, but ultimately too clunky to make for great fiction or poetry.

There are some bright spots in the collection, however. Mehri Yalfani’s “Happiness in Five Definitions” is a lovely, simply written story that has a group of friends, two married couples, and a single man discussing the meaning of happiness around a campfire. “Red is a Woman’s Colour” by Rosamund Elwin is a sweet coming of age tale.

There’s some fine writing in “Jody” by Annie Coyle Martin, a short piece about an AIDS caregiver and her client. And both Lesley Anne Cowan’s revenge story,“Hair,” and Mariko Tamaki’s tale of lesbian schoolgirl obsession, “A Stalking Story,” provide the anthology with some much needed bite and humour.