By Allison Baggio
ECW Press, $18.95, 291 pages
Sometimes it is the mind that governs the body, but it is often our bodies and our perception of them that shape our relationships and lives. Canadian author Allison Baggio explores this with a variety of characters in her novella and short story collection In the Body. Women struggle with cancer, large noses, eating disorders and wrinkles. Men contend with alcoholism, heart transplants and gastric bypass surgery. Even being healthy can sometimes be a curse, such as for the 19-year-old drafted into service in Vietnam and the man with body integrity identity disorder, which makes him become obsessed with severing his left leg.
“I promise, I’ll still be me, just better.”
In most instances the subject matter should be treated poignantly, but these stories skim the surface with mundane dialogue, wooden characters, sentimentalism and cliché overtures. Baggio has a good eye for a story and can execute the general idea, but ideally needs to go through a few more revisions to deepen and hone the characters and their experiences.
Reviewed by Sarah Hutchins