Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA), Centre for Women’s Studies in Education (CWSE) and Leadership Higher and Adult Education at OISE are pleased to co-sponsor the premiere book launch of Bonnie Burstow’s latest novel (The Other Mrs. Smith)—a novel that is the most hard—hitting fictional portrayal of electroshock (ECT) ever written, the most accurate, the most sensitizing, helping readers understand what it does to people in their daily lives, laying bare the damage and the sexist facts.
Produced by Inanna Press, this penetrating novel traces the life experiences of a once highly successful woman who falls prey to electroshock and subsequently struggles, partly successfully, partly in vain, to piece back together her life. Naomi, the protagonist, suffers enormous memory loss; additionally, an estrangement from her family of origin that she has no way to wrap her mind around. The novel begins with her wandering the corridor of St. Patricks-St Andrews Mental Health Centre (St. Pukes) faced with the seemingly impossible challenge of coming to terms with the damage done her, as well uncovering the hidden details of her life. It moves back and forth in space and time, between a relatively happy childhood in the legendary north-end Winnipeg of the mid-1900s and post-ECT adulthood in Toronto. An exceptionally kind man named Ger who befriends Naomi comes to suspect that important pieces of the puzzle of what befell her lurk beneath the surface of writing in a binder of hers, which comes to be known as Black Binder Number Three. Filled with a vast array of colourful and insightful characters from a variety of communities–Toronto¹s Kensington Market of the 1970s, the 1970’s trans community, north-end Winnipeg Jewry, and the ingenious and frequently hilarious mad community (circa 2015)—this novel sensitizes us to the horror of electroshock, takes us to new levels in our understanding of what it means to be human, and, in the process, leads us to question the very concept of normalcy.
Featured at the book launch will be a speech on ECT by Bonnie, readings from the novel, a survivor speak-out, and other speakers still to be announced.
Want to get a vivid sense of what ECT does to people—women in particular? Interested in a fascinating read and a rare glimpse into some special communities? Want to join the anti-ECT conversation and be part of making history? Come to the book launch.
Where: The Nexus Lounge (12th Floor) Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 252 Bloor St. West, Toronto
When: 5:30 p.m., November 3, 2017