Format: Trade Paperback
Dimensions: 368 pages, 8.96 × 5.98 × 0.97 in
Published: January 23, 2001
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0679310711
ISBN - 13: 9780679310716
Read from the Book
Foreword The focus for this anthology floated out one day amid soup and salad at one of those gatherings where Carol and I take the emotional pulse of our worlds – or The World, it seems to us. “The woman’s network let me down. Nothing I’ve ever heard or read prepared me for this!” This particular yelp resulted from the plummet of energy and purpose I experienced with menopause and quickly led us to wider, more lively musings on what else had caught us unprepared, where else we had experienced gaps between female experience and expression. We were surprised by the number of topics and by the ease with which they came to mind. The image of dropped threads from the fabric of women’s talk occurred to us and the familiar, satisfying assumption that women could talk about anything unravelled as we spoke. We included other women in our speculations: friends, colleagues and family members took up the conversation with enthusiasm and immediate revelations as though, for some, the topic was one they had wanted to discuss for years. They identified gaps in their communal talk and named life-altering surprises in their individual lives. Most spoke of serious issues, of surprise bruisings or blessings, private moments of intense connection or bewilderment. Other women reported insights that bordered on the hilarious: one friend mentioned that her greatest surprise was “sagging earlobes” and another claimed it was “a husband who flosse
Table of Contents
Foreword JOAN BARFOOT—Starch, Salt, Chocolate, Wine LORNA CROZIER—What Stays in the Family ISABEL HUGGAN—Notes on a Piece for Carol ANNE HART—Lettuce Turnip and Pea BONNIE BURNARD—Casseroles SUSAN LIGHTSTONE—Hope for the Best (Expect the Worst) MARNI JACKSON—Tuck Me In: Redefining Attachment Between Mothers and Sons JOAN CLARK—How Do I Look? CLAUDIA CASPER—Victory JANET E. BRADLEY—Middle-Aged Musings on Retirement BETTY JANE WYLIE—The Imaginary Woman ROSALIE BENOIT WEAVER—Life''s Curves JUNE CALLWOOD—Old Age JAQUELINE McLEOD ROGERS—Grace After Pressure MARGARET ATWOOD—If You Can''t Say Something Nice, Don''t Say Anything At All CHARLOTTE GRAY—Gilding the Dark Shades LILY REDMOND—Mrs. Jones ISLA JAMES—Edited Version DEBORAH SCHNITZER—Just a Part MIRIAM TOEWS—A Father''s Faith MARTHA BROOKS—One Woman''s Experience with the Ecstatic SHARON BUTALA—Seeing MARGARET SHAW-MACKINNON—Birth, Death and the Eleusinian Mysteries ELEANOR WACHTEL—Speechless HELEN FOGWILL PORTER—Juliet RENATE SCHULZ—Hidden in the Hand KATHERINE GOVIER—Wild Roses CAROL HUSSA HARVEY and KATHERINE C.H. GARDINER—Reflections from Cyberspace SANDY FRANCES DUNCAN—I Have Blinds Now KATHERINE MARTENS—The Joys of Belly Dancing THE HONOURABLE SHARON CARSTAIRS—Politics: Is It a Woman''s Game? BLANCHE HOWARD—The Anger of Young Men AN
From the Publisher
The idea came up over lunch between two old friends. There was a need for a book that, eschewing sensationalism and simplistic answers, would examine the holes in the fabric of women’s talk of the last thirty or forty years. The contributors, a cross-section of women, would be asked to explore defining moments in their lives rarely aired in common discourse: truths they had never shared, subjects they hadn’t written about before or otherwise found a place for. What Carol Shields and Marjorie Anderson wanted to hear about were the experiences that had brought unexpected pleasure or disappointment, that somehow had caught each woman unawares. The pieces, woven together, would be a tapestry of stories about what women experience but don’t talk about. The resulting book became an instant #1 bestseller.
“Our feeling was that women are so busy protecting themselves and other people that they still feel they have to keep quiet about some subjects,” Carol Shields explained in an interview. Dropped Threads takes as its model the kind of informal discussions women have every day – over coffee, over lunch, over work, over the Internet – and pushes them further, sometimes even into painful territory. Subjects include work, menopause, childbirth, a husband’s terminal illness, the loss of a child, getting old, the substance of women’s friendships, the power of sexual feelings, the power of power, and that nagging question, “How do I look?” Some of the experiences are instantly recognizable; others are bound to provoke debate or inspire readers to examine their own lives more closely.
The book is a collection of short, engaging pieces by more than thirty women, from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island. Many are mothers, some are grandmothers, and many are professionals, including journalists, professors, lawyers, musicians, a corporate events planner and a senator. Readers will find the personal revelations of some of their favourite authors here, such as Margaret Atwood, Bonnie Burnard, Sharon Butala, Joan Barfoot, Joan Clark and Katherine Govier. Other contributors include:
• Eleanor Wachtel, CBC radio host, talks about her early fears of speaking in public.
• June Callwood, journalist, social activist and a Companion of the Order of Canada, at the age of seventy-six is surprised at her failure to find answers to the imponderable dilemmas surrounding human life, and of her lack of connection to the “apparition” in the mirror.
• Isabel Huggan, short story writer, muses on what she considers the impossibility of mothers passing on knowledge to their daughters, and on her own feeling that “we are girls dressed up in ladies’ clothing, pretending.”
With writing that is reflective, often amusing, poignant, emotional and profound, Dropped Threads is the first book to tackle the lesser-discussed issues of middle age and is the first anthology the editors have compiled together.
About the Author
Marjorie Anderson is the seventh of eight children born to Ásdis and Thorsteinn Anderson, Icelandic-Canadian fishers, farmers and storytellers who farmed in the hamlet of Libau, on the edges of Lake Winnipeg. She has a Ph.D. in English literature and taught writing and literature at the English department of the University of Manitoba before moving to the university’s I. H. Asper School of Business, where she is now director of communication programs. Her teaching specialties at the Asper School include interpersonal and intercultural communication, oral presentation skills, mediation and negotiation strategies, and conflict management. Through her company, Wordwise Communication, she conducts seminars and training sessions for professional and business organizations. She has been awarded the Faculty of Management’s Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching and has been chosen to teach in a number of international programs, the most recent one being an MBA program in the Czech Republic in the spring of 2000. She and her husband, Gary, live in Winnipeg and have four daughters and five — soon to be seven — grandchildren. . Anderson has had a lifelong interest in writing and storytelling and has been involved in editing and teaching editing skills for approximately twenty years; therefore, the task of editing Dropped Threads was a comfortable one for her and the collaboration with her friend Carol Shields was a great pleasure. Born in Oak Park, Il
Marjorie Anderson Q & A 1) Can you tell us how you came to collaborate with Carol Shields? Carol and I have been friends for close to twenty years. We met while we were both teaching in the English Department of the University of Manitoba. I was teaching 20th century literature and Carol was teaching creative writing. Since then we have remained close and have had countless long, fascinating discussions, often over lunch, about writing, literature, and the emotional state of” the worlds”–ours and the larger one. The book grew out of a conversation we had at one of our lengthier lunches at the university. 2) What inspired you to begin this project? At lunch one day in the spring of 1998, I told Carol I felt that “the woman’s network let me down.” I was experiencing a plummet in energy not uncommon in menopause--apparently. I declared that nothing I read and nothing I heard from other woman had prepared me for the dip I was experiencing. We mused on that topic for a while and then went on to lively speculations on what other experiences had caught us by surprise, where else there were gaps in women’s talk. I can’t remember exactly what other topics we came up with on that day, but I do remember being “caught” in the discussion for weeks after. Both Carol and I asked other women friends and family members about their observations on the topic and all of them had interesting views and comments. At our subsequent lunc
From Our Editors
collection of writings, edited by Carol
Shields and Marjorie Anderson,
examines eclectic and rarely discussed topics that pertain to women. In Dropped Threads various celebrities as well as unknown housewives and academics
discuss the experiences that have amazed and disappointed them. Each piece
contains a “shock of recognition” that will certainly engage the aging female
reader. Essays by such literary luminaries as Margaret Atwood, June Callwood,
Eleanor Wachtel, Sharon Butala and Marni Jackson are included in this unusual
“There are exciting and truly intimate entries in this book…these women take ideas even secret ones, and infuse them with poetry, scoured and buffed sentences and …stopwatch comic timing…The true depth of the collection is found in these women’s clear memories and their willingness to share.” -- Quill & Quire “It’s a collection of revealing essays and short stories by 35 Canadian women at mid-life and beyond, reflecting on the life events that caught them off guard and, somehow, haven’t been talked about…As it turns out, there are many dropped threads in our lives. Weave them together and you’ve got a tapestry.” -- Bonnie Schiedel, Chatelaine , April 2001 “ Dropped Threads … is a collection of 34 pieces by Canadian women in which they describe…everything they never said or were not able to say before, but which had tremendous power in their lives…[Senator Sharon Carstairs’s] essay about women in politics [is] clear-eyed and devastating …Miriam Toews examines her father’s lifelong battle with depression, which culminated in his suicide … with gentleness and insight … These are all the conversations we would wish to have with friends and these essays stimulate the sense of exuberance and relief that one always feels after a long, self-revelatory talk.” -- Virginia Beaton, Halifax Chronicle-Herald , 25 Feb 2001 “ Dropped Threads is a much-
This book left an imprint on my soul. Thirty-five renowned authors have written delicately woven autobiographical stories/secrets about their childhood experiences, and how they shaped them into becoming the thoughtful and successful persons they are in middle age. Is aging an illusion? Does a birth certificate determine how young or old you feel inside? How does it feel to shed a family secret and then view life again with a fresh perspective? In my view, this down-home book is lofty reading for anyone who views life as a process rather than a destination. I will definitely be hand-selling this one.
1. Which stories stood out for you and why?
2. Which stories were most disturbing or most surprising and why?
3. Considering that the first volume of this book was on the best seller list of the Globe and Mail for 85 weeks, what do you think accounts for the interest from readers? What do books of this nature offer women?
4. Choose your favourite piece in Dropped Threads and prepare a one-minute testimonial to share with your book club on why this piece touched you.