Truth, Lies and Apartments

Walkups

By Simon McAslan

A review of Walkups by Lance Blomgren

Published on October 1, 2000

Walkups
Lance Blomgren

Conundrum Press
$31.95
paperback
168pp
0-7780-1159-3

In his playful Walkups, Lance Blomgren looks for the truth in the ordinary, the mythical in the mundane. Sometimes autobiographical, sometimes fantastical, the book’s diary-like entries work together to create a loose “story” more imagistic than plot-driven.

The narrators hover between voyeuristic and paranoid as they detail activities in various apartments around Montreal. (There’s a notable concentration of Plateau and Mile End addresses; one is headed simply “Somewhere in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve”). As one character says about contemplating one’s neighbours, “‘It should motivate you to dig deeper into the happenings around you. Imagine the things that go on when doors are closed.'”

Blomgren has both dug deeper and imagined those things, and his book invites us to create stories from sparse clues and to form a cohesive whole from seemingly disparate images. We can make our own links and discoveries.

One link told rather than shown is the relationship between building and body. Indeed, Blomgren is at his best when he discards telling and just shows us pure moments, such as the beautiful image of children attending sick and dying ants, from the hospital to the ant funeral home where “the musicians play the Funeral March on instruments too tiny to hear.”

Elsewhere, Blomgren is sometimes self-consciously “poetic,” so the images do not ring true: “my heartheartheartheartheartheartheart heart-heart: hear the art, earth.” Too clever by half, and not honest. For all its self-consciousness, however, Walkups is a playfully engaging invitation into a maze of truth and lies. mRb

Simon McAslan is a Montreal playwright whose plays have been produced in Vancouver, Victoria, and Montreal.

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