What We’ve Been Reading: April 0 Comments

What We’ve Been Reading: April

April: cruellest month or sweetest month? Maybe it depends on what you’ve been reading. Here are some of EdComm’s picks for the month.



Over Easter, I picked up Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls. It was the perfect thing to read while lying around in a chocolate-coma—trashy, addictive, and girly as hell. If you’re not familiar with the story, it follows these three young women trying to make it in the manly man’s world of post-WWII New York. They lie about their age, get engaged to millionaires, drink too much, and have glamorous addictions to Dexedrine and Nembutal. It’s both lightweight and legitimately depressing. Think Mad Men meets The Hills.  

In keeping with the sixties cult classic theme, I also read Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin. I came to it without having seen the Polanski film version, so I didn’t really know where it was going. Actually, I think I expected it to be more gruesome than it was. Though it was creepy at times, I found it more funny and surreal than anything. The Stepford Wives (also by Levin) was much scarier to me.



As a lover of nineties cult classics, it’s about time I got around to reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I read somewhere that it may seem a little overwrought once your uni days are behind you, so I thought I’d better get stuck in before then. Tartt gradually takes you into her confidence and lets you feel like you’re part of an elite club. The only thing is, it would never accept you because you are probably (definitely) not fluent in ancient Greek and your tie is a polyester blend. This closed-off world of conceited classics students might seem less seductive if you’re sick of reading about privileged white people, but who doesn’t get off on all things withholding, amirite? This book makes me want to read Hesiod and Homer through false pince-nez as I swish my billowing overcoat around corners. It makes me want to frolic in the forest with Dionysiac fervour and bite the throat right out of a deer.



After meaning to read it for years, it was only when I found Bel Schenk’s Ambulances & Dreamers in my local library that I got stuck into this lovely collection. Her poetry is uncluttered and tender, without pretence or excessive romanticism. That isn’t to say the poems aren’t romantic, but they have with them the romance of the real.


I would like to float back to sleep

gracefully, like an orchestra looking up

at the ballerina twirling in time.


You can imagine these words being written in an email between lovers or poets as in ‘Notes for Somebody in Berlin’ which brought back memories of a place I’d never been. Or in ‘In the Green Room Café, Toronto’, which although has a strong sense of place, could be at the same time anywhere. ‘The Landing is Harder in Real Time’ was a standout for me, an intimate and fleeting view into the lives of those in a building as outside they catch a glimpse of “oh, nothing. Do birds fly at night?”

There is an ongoing theme of fortune cookies, which while it helps to tie the collection together, becomes a little repetitive towards the end. But Schenk is a poet who knows how to express herself in the truest manner she has:

“kindness. intimacy. love. / I have no thesaurus. These will suffice.”

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