A One-Handed Novel
by Kim Clark

Caitlin Press, 2018. ISBN 978-1-987-91562-4.
Reviewed by Mary Ann Moore
Posted on 06/05/2018

Fiction: Literary

In A One-Handed Novel, Kim Clark continues the story of Melanie Farrell, first introduced in her short story, "Six Degrees of Altered Sensation." (Kim Clark's book of short stories, Attemptations, was reviewed for Story Circle.)

Kim Clark lives in Nanaimo, British Columbia, as does her character and also has MS. So when she writes of Melanie's physical challenges, she is writing from very real experience. When Melanie falls when window shopping while using her cane, she decides: "it's time to lay bare to the world the extent of my disability regardless of the effect on my level of desirability."

As Melanie is clever and curious, she realizes, by looking at the letters that make the words "disability" and "desirability" different, she can spell "red." She decides to buy "an uplifting, very crimson underwire bra" and a red motorized scooter she calls Adele.

"I'm fairly sure I'm justified in thinking that replacing one obsession (orgasms) with another (remission) can't be all bad," Melanie says. She takes off for Costa Rica with her friend Jackie to have angioplasty done by a doctor there. Along with erotic adventures experienced while under anesthetic, Melanie meets a man searching for butterflies, Leo Moss, who she will run into again at home in Nanaimo.

A One-Handed Novel has its poignant moments, too, when Melanie describes going home alone: "I think about the aloneness waiting for me at home. I try to come up with better things waiting for me. I come up with sweet felicity-all."

Physiotherapy becomes a luxury for Melanie when her credit card is declined. She files for bankruptcy and describes herself as a " hopeful, crippled but determined, broke but eager entrepreneur." When she hears of a possible inheritance, Melanie goes to meet with a lawyer who has an office over Janitors Supply Depot. As there is no elevator, she meets him in the hazmat aisle of the store. Whatever the situation, Melanie is able to find humor in it.

I was excited while reading this novel to realize what fiction can do: to imagine positive, and even possible, outcomes. Fiction can educate, as Kim Clark has done with her novel, as well as let us soar into adventure and possibility. It can all begin by asking the question "what if?"

Kim Clark is an author, poet and playwright, "and gimp" who lives in Nanaimo, British Columbia. She has published short fiction: Attemptations (Caitlin Press 2011), and poetry: Middle Child of Summer (Leaf Press, 2013), Sit You Waiting (Caitlin Press, 2012), and Dis ease and De sire: The M anu s cript (Lipstick Press, 2011). She is the co-editor of the red-head anthology Canadian Ginger (Oolichan Books, 2017). Kim is writing a sequel to A One-Handed Novel. Read more about her work on her website.

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