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Gotta Find Me An Angel by Brenda Brooks

Gotta Find Me an Angel by Brenda Brooks
Raincoast Books, 2005. 219 pp.
Gotta Find Me An Angel by Brenda Brooks

Gotta Find Me an Angel, the first novel of poet Brenda Brooks, is quirky, humourous, and beautifully written.

The narrator/heroine thought she had forgotten Madeline, who died by her own hand when they were both in their early teens. Why then, at thirty-five, has her lost friend become all she can think about? Had her first love literally returned to haunt her, as it sometimes seemed? How else to explain the vivid apparition of the lost girl in her familiar fringe jacket, sodden and stained from the lake where she had drowned. Was this a particularly garish break-down, or had memories of unresolved childhood passion finally returned to claim her?

Meet the heroine’s friend and roommate, poet Billie Smart, who seems to be driving the narrator crazy with all sorts of tiny, laughable habits (note her method of eating a soft-boiled egg and penchant for I Claudius reruns on late-night television) but is nevertheless gradually leading her haunted friend away from her dark obsessions, into the flawed yet tender, vibrant realities of the present.

If it is true, as Sartre said, that hell is other people, it is equally true that we are repeatedly saved (sometimes in spite of ourselves) by the entrance of singular others into our solitary imaginations and lives. The artist Julia Riding plays just this role in the life of the narrator, whose bruised psyche remains doubled-over from the terrible blow life bestowed at too tender an age. Julia’s mere presence somehow serves to break down her resistance and open her to the possibilities of the world once again, flawed and bereft of certainty though that world may be.

The book closes with Billie Smart’s often-practiced but pretty awful rendition of Aretha Franklin’s song, Gotta Find Me an Angel, quite like the author herself sings it, and represents the one non-fiction moment in the book.

Praise for Gotta Find Me An Angel

A deliciously funny, dark swoon of a novel about love in all its guises. ~ Emma Donoghue

When a poet turns her attention to prose, something special can happen. A heartfelt story told with precise and energetic language. ~ Globe and Mail

Brooks has a cinematic eye for the significant details that establish locale in an instant and is attentive as a jazz musician to the silences between the lines, allowing dialogue to resonate with the force of a Miles Davis ballad.~ Books in Canada, for the Amazon.ca/Books In Canada First Novel Award Shortlist 2005


But never mind — you’re back now. How long have I been looking for you? Forever. In how many places? Everywhere. In how many people? Everyone. How often have I thrown myself away and made myself ridiculous trying to catch and embrace what amounted to … what do you call those swirls of wind that spin a bit of dust into the air and then disappear around a corner? Such things will forever be You. Things that go away, things that refuse to abide, things that the wind howls through and wears away to nothing — these will always be “Madeline” to me.

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Posted by Pearl on Jun 10 2011. Filed under Fiction. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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