“In giving us her rage, humour and fallibility, Devaney has perfectly highlighted our cultural fear of frankly discussing the reality of illness.” – The National Post
Julie Devaney is a patient-expert based in Toronto. She is the author and performer of the critically acclaimed show, educational workshop series, and book, My Leaky Body (Goose Lane Editions, September 2012). According to the National Post, “While this memoir is an uncompromisingly detailed account of one woman’s medical experiences, it acts as a sort of Everyman tome, a handbook on the rights of the patient to dictate their own path to wellness.” Devaney was named a Woman Health Hero by Best Health Magazine in 2011 and has been profiled on CBC Radio’s White Coat, Black Art and The Current, Chatelaine and the Toronto Star. Her writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Life and numerous anthologies. Find her on Twitter: @juliedevaney
Her weakest moment spawned a crusade for change. Julie Devaney takes us on a journey through the health care system as she is diagnosed and treated for ulcerative colitis. In and out of emergency rooms in Vancouver and Toronto, she’s poked, prodded, and abandoned to a closet at one point, bearing the helplessness and indignities of a system that seems hell-bent on victimizing the sick.
Raw, harrowing, and darkly funny, Julie Devaney argues convincingly for fixes to the system and better training for all medical personnel. As she recovers, she sets out to do just that: setting up a gurney on stage at workshops and conferences across the country to teach Bedside Manners 101 and to advocate for repairs to the system.
Part memoir, part love story, part revolutionary manifesto, My Leaky Body is politically astute, gooey like cake batter, and raw like ulcerated bowels. Devaney writes the book that will heal her aching heart and relax her strictured rectum as she weaves stories from professional and public interactions with tales from her gurney.
“Geddes has produced a work well worth reading for both its content and its call to action.” – The National Post
Drink the Bitter Root is a provocative, emotionally charged account of one writer’s travels in sub-Saharan Africa. Haunted by the 1993 murder of a Somali teenager by Canadian soldiers in what became known as the Somalia affair, and long fascinated by the “dark continent,” Gary Geddes decides at age 68 to make the trip. His explorations are guided by questions: How can a tribunal in a suburb of Europe change things on the ground in Africa? Is international aid improving the lives of ordinary Africans or contributing to their suffering?
Geddes’s search takes him first to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In Rwanda and Uganda, he attends grassroots criminal courts and encounters rescued street kids, women raped and infected with HIV during the genocide, and victims mutilated by the Lord’s Resistance Army. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Somaliland, with the help of fixers and the occasional armed guard, Geddes finds himself in the instructive—at times redeeming—presence of child soldiers, refugees and poets-turned–freedom fighters. Of particular note is his time in Somaliland, where he learns about the country’s concern with poetry as “a healing and a subversive art”; Somalia is known as a nation of poets, and Geddes attends various events that bear that appellation out, including a four-hour extravaganza of poetry devoted to celebrating the camel attended by 500 people.
The stories Geddes brings back are haunting, uplifting, stark and sometimes unbearable, but all are presented with the essential lightness Jean-Paul Sartre insisted is so crucial to good writing. This masterful blend of history, reportage, testimonial and memoir is a condemnation of the horrors spawned by greed and corruption and an eloquent tribute to human resilience.
Set across Africa, this is a deeply engaging investigation of trauma, justice and the redemptive powers of imagination from an internationally acclaimed author.
Gary Geddes has written and edited more than 45 books of poetry, fiction, drama, non-fiction, criticism, translations and anthologies and won more than a dozen national and international literary awards, including the National Magazine Gold Award, Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Americas Region), the Lt.-Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence and the Gabriela Mistral Prize from Chile. His recent titles include two books of poetry, Falsework (Goose Lane, 2007) and Swimming Ginger (Goose Lane, 2010), and two works of non-fiction, Kingdom of Ten Thousand Things (HarperCollins, 2005) and Drink the Bitter Root: A writer’s search for justice and redemption in Africa (Douglas & McIntyre, 2011).