The beauty and pain of the physical body becomes the focus of Arley McNeney’s first published novel, Post.
In this 469-page novel, Nolan Taylor, a Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball Olympic champion, searches for a new identity after hip-replacement surgery. The title has multiple meanings, referring to her position on the team as well as her post-operative angst: “I was an elite wheelchair basketball player. The centre for Team Canada. The Big Girl. The Post. Now, I am a… former elite wheelchair basketball player: the post-Post.”
She almost immediately becomes pregnant with would-be musician Quinn, her boyfriend of 13 years. The book begins just before the surgery and ends as the baby is born. In between, the story careens backward and forward between her childhood, her first affair with her basketball mentor Darren, her past and current life with Quinn, and her eventual re-involvement with Darren after she becomes pregnant.
McNeney’s words flow like music or poetry: “It was natural to see my hip as a bawdy house: skin like heavy curtains over the secret creaking of joints. My hip with its redlight-district throb of inflammation when I walk, heartbeat misplaced there. My heart not in the right place, too close to the groin.”
As a “big girl” on the Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball team, the New Westminster author knows the reality underlying the practice and competition scenes she writes, including the Olympic championships. When the book was published, she was still working on her graduate degree in creative writing at Champaign-Urbana Illinois.
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