Sunday, September 16, 2007

Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers

Stuart and I are quite dependent on one another, rarely apart, and we once spent four straight months together when we were between jobs/countries, and never tired of the company. We're lucky, I think, but then there is a certain something that comes from distance. Soon after that four months, we returned to real life and one morning I left a message for him on our whiteboard, returning home later to find his reply to me. The exchange was hardly profound, but it struck me-- this physical evidence of our relationship, the different ways you communicate when you're not side-by-side. How much words can do when they stand up on their own, which is the power explored by Alice Kuipers in her new book Life on the Refrigerator Door.

Life on the Refrigerator Door is a funny little book, part YA, a bit novelty. Composed simply of notes from mother to daughter, some just a few words or lines long, but then it made me cry. That is something. Kuipers has demonstrated that a series of notes on their own can assume a narrative structure, convey character, humour, emotion. This is one of those things, I suppose, that would be much harder in practice than it may seem. And it's also a risk for a new writer to take, when grandiosity is all the rage. A writer must have confidence to create a work like this, a lack of ego to send something so deceptively simple out into the world. This book has left me much intrigued as to what Alice Kuipers will get up to next, and now I am excited to go there.