As the final part of our online Symposium on Girls Fall Down, Maggie Helwig was gracious enough to answer some of our questions. In so doing we ranged from the soul and synaptic connections to the Venerable Bede, from the wounds on the risen body of Christ to felix culpa. I hope it proves as interesting reading for you as it did for us! Continue reading
The Soul and the City
by Andre Forget
One of the most remarkable features of Girls Fall Down is the way in which Maggie Helwig has managed to write the city of Toronto into existence. The well-documented Canadian obsession with place is in full bloom in this novel, but the Toronto Helwig creates is not Michael Ondaatje’s Toronto (which is fundamentally a place of rebirth), nor is it Robertson Davies’ Toronto in The Cunning Man, which is thoroughly colonial. Helwig’s Toronto is a place haunted at once by profound loneliness and an almost terrifying sense of connection. Much of the novel’s beauty is derived from how totally the author embraces this paradox; its genius, however, lies in the unflinching way in which Helwig uses the city to investigate the individual and the individual to interrogate the city. Continue reading
The Catastrophe of Bodily Living
by Joshua Paetkau
Review: Maggie Helwig Girls Fall Down
Toronto: Coach House Books, 2008, 266 pages.
Bodies rushing along at breakneck speeds through underground tunnels; impersonal and unattached they come and go in steady even streams. As if they formed a sort of modern analogy of Epicurean materialism, bodies raining down evenly through the plumbless void. What could cause them to break their eternal movement of incessant isolation? What could cause this solitary congregation to turn its attention outwards? Continue reading
We were blessed back in fall 2011 to have Maggie Helwig, an activist, curate, and extraordinary woman of letters, post some poetry on Catholic Commons. As her most recent novel, Girls Fall Down, has started to make serious waves, we thought it would be worthwhile to host an online Symposium to discuss the novel and its many points of intersection with theology, politics, and social theory. Over the next two weeks we will post a number of pieces that deal specifically with various aspects of this novel, and will round it off with an interview with the author herself. We hope it proves edifying, and more to the point we hope it motivates some of you to purchase the novel and read it for yourselves.