Sunday, December 18, 2011

VBT# Guest Post with Abria Mattina

Author Guest Post : Abria Mattina

Two of the central themes in Wake are escapism and the process of moving forward. The two aren’t necessarily synonymous. Sometimes escapism equates to regression, while moving forward is more deliberate and calculated, as protagonists Jem and Willa discover.
American fiction has popularized the idea that “you can’t go home again,” but in Canadian fiction there seems to be a mandate that one must return to a place of origin and confront the past.
Every person goes through a period where he or she wishes to lose part of the past. That’s what adolescence is for—to move away from the childish things that define our lives and shape a new identity. For Jem and Willa, adolescence is a bit more complicated. They not only have to establish an adult identity, but escape the uniquely bad experiences of youth.
Willa handles escapism in the physical sense. She moves away from her problems—hundreds of miles away. Willa represses her emotional pain and then seeks to escape reality through impulsive decisions about substance abuse, who she befriends, and who she sleeps with. Even after she starts to reorder her life, Willa takes the escapist route again. She leaves behind her home in Newfoundland to return to another point of origin in Ontario. She is, in other words, a master of avoiding the things she doesn’t want to deal with.
Jem is more of a mental escapist. He prefers to imagine reality as something other than what it is, often drawing inspiration for this fantasy from his life before cancer. He resents anything that interferes with his ability to inhabit this illusion—his physical discomfort, others’ responses to him, his reflection in the mirror, etc. In order to overcome this brand of escapism he needs to learn to inhabit his own skin.
There are endless ways to explore the theme of escapism in fiction, and that’s what attracted me to it. Having the characters move forward as well as away from their pasts was a way of incorporating hope into the story. Jem and Willa are not doomed to flounder through life. Slowly, painfully, they do begin to take charge of their lives and identities.
In escapism there’s a common bond, but in moving forward there’s hopefulness.

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