What appear to be early-twentieth-century anatomical engravings of various body parts--eye, tongue, spine, breast, legs, foot, genitalia--accompany a male narrator's thoughts about his wife and their relationship. He describes the "good days" and "bad days" in their mundane life. He suspects that she may be having an affair and wonders if he should have one too. Her disturbing restlessness is felt "in [his] bones," but he avoids confronting it, hoping that they will continue happy.


A poignant glimpse of a threatened union--no climax, no denouement, just ongoing tension. The anatomical aspects of domestic physiology are teasingly emphasized by the illustrations to underscore the physicality, not only of human relationships, but also of human language. Throughout this collection, the writer gives her twentieth-century sources for the illustrations, but unfortunately she does not provide their origin. The lacuna reminds us that this is not a historical or a social essay, but a work of art that combines words and pictures. The author calls these creative essays "stories."


The book in which this essay appeared won the Governor General's Award for English Fiction.

Primary Source

Forms of Devotion: Stories and Pictures



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