Canadian

Where It Hurts

In her collection of creative nonfiction essays, Sarah de Leeuw reflects on loss and missing geographies.

Sarah de Leeuw

Where It Hurts is a highly charged collection of personal essays, haunted by loss, evoking turbulent physical and emotional Canadian landscapes. Sarah de Leeuw's creative nonfiction captures strange inconsistencies and aberrations of human behaviour, urging us to be observant and aware. The essays are wide in scope and expose what — and who — goes missing.

With staggering insight, Sarah de Leeuw reflects on missing geographies and people, including missing women, both those she has known and those whom she will never get to know. The writing is courageously focused, juxtaposing places and things that can be touched and known — emotionally, physically, psychologically — with what has become intangible, unnoticed or actively ignored. Throughout these essays, de Leeuw's imagistic memories are layered with meaning, providing a survival guide for the present, including a survival that comes with the profound responsibility to bear witness. (From NeWest Press)

Excerpt | Author interview

From the book

How the water arches and sparkles in the sunrise of a new continent, how water streams down the plane's windows, christening an entire aircraft, how stewardesses clap and smile and how the co-pilot comes onto the plane's intercom system and announces how proud he is to have accompanied Captain Vincent MacDonald on his final flight as a pilot, how Vince is a good man who's put in more than forty years with Air Canada, how from here on in the only flyin' Vince is gonna be doin' is down to Puerto Vallarta or, shucks, Las Vegas, with his wife and grandkids. How there's a bottle of champagne waiting in the Pilot's lounge and how Vince is going to have a glass or five even though it's 6:30 in the morning, Pacific Standard Time. How by then everyone on that massive Boeing 747 is clapping along with the pretty stewardesses, a few voices calling congratulations Vince, congratulations man.

Before that flight back to Vancouver from Sydney, I had never held a man as he died.

As he pissed himself lying spread out on the floor of the airport, his wife screaming, screaming hang on Murray, hang on Murray, oh god someone help, hang on Murray.

I did not mean to hold Murray as he died.


From Where It Hurts by Sarah de Leeuw ©2017. Published by NeWest Press.

Author interview

Instead of denying the painful past and challenging realities of life in Northern B.C., Sarah de Leeuw is illuminating the darkest moments and struggles of the region in the hopes of exposing it's complex beauty. 7:35

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