22 Sept 2022

We Can(ada) Read: RUN TOWARDS THE DANGER by Sarah Polley

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Author: Sarah Polley
Series: N/A
Source: Audiobook from Libro.fm
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: March 1, 2022
Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:

"A visceral and incisive collection of six propulsive personal essays." - Vanity Fair

*Named a Most-Anticipated Book of 2022 by Entertainment Weekly, Lit Hub, and AV Club*

Oscar-nominated screenwriter, director, and actor Sarah Polley's Run Towards the Danger explores memory and the dialogue between her past and her present

These are the most dangerous stories of my life. The ones I have avoided, the ones I haven't told, the ones that have kept me awake on countless nights. As these stories found echoes in my adult life, and then went another, better way than they did in childhood, they became lighter and easier to carry.

Sarah Polley's work as an actor, screenwriter, and director is celebrated for its honesty, complexity, and deep humanity. She brings all those qualities, along with her exquisite storytelling chops, to these six essays. Each one captures a piece of Polley's life as she remembers it, while at the same time examining the fallibility of memory, the mutability of reality in the mind, and the possibility of experiencing the past anew, as the person she is now but was not then. As Polley writes, the past and present are in a "reciprocal pressure dance."

Polley contemplates stories from her own life ranging from stage fright to high-risk childbirth to endangerment and more. After struggling with the aftermath of a concussion, Polley met a specialist who gave her wholly new advice: to recover from a traumatic injury, she had to retrain her mind to strength by charging towards the very activities that triggered her symptoms. With riveting clarity, she shows the power of applying that same advice to other areas of her life in order to find a path forward, a way through. Rather than live in a protective crouch, she had to run towards the danger.

In this extraordinary book, Polley explores what it is to live in one's body, in a constant state of becoming, learning, and changing. 
Amazon | Chapters | TBD
This is one of the books on the shortlist of the 2022 Toronto Book Awards!

Content Warning: Sexual assault, body dysmorphia, PTSD, death scare, pregnancy, surgery, parental death, parental neglect, concussions, stage fright, child actor

I picked this up because it's one of the shortlist books for the 2022 Toronto Book Awards and I also wanted to see Women Talking at TIFF (but didn't make it). But I kinda wish I hadn't. This is the type of memoir that pretends to be insights into what happens when you don't look at mental health struggles, and the life of someone who lives with trauma, but doesn't dig deep into those. Considering these are six stories that are supposed to be the "most dangerous stories of [her] life," I just didn't feel all that connected to them.

I only had empathy for Sarah during the J*an Gh*meshi essay - her story of being sexually assaulted at 16 was hard to read. And even harder to read that people believed her but also place doubt on her and her story. I remember following that story really closely and waiting to see what would happen.

But the rest of this memoir is ... meh. I know I should feel more empathy but this feels more like a humble brag than a "these bad things happened and I want to share my story." I know that the goal of this was to look at "a charmed and successful life" from the other side, but I don't know that I have that much sympathy for someone who still is in show business, still extremely successful, and still is able to get everything.

I don't think I can fully recommend this. I've read some really good essay collections, but this was not it. I have a feeling Jennette McCurdy's book will be much better.

Are you going to pick this up?

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