Sunday, May 2, 2010

Taxi! in National Post

Deserves not to be forgotten: Writers hail Helen Potrebenkos Taxi!

Deserves not to be forgotten': Writers hail Helen Potrebenko's 'Taxi!'
Posted: April 28, 2010, 12:30 PM by Brad Frenette

Alberta-born author Helen Potrebenko published her first novel, Taxi!, in 1975. The book, published shortly after her move to Vancouver from Alberta, told of the struggles of a female cab driver making her way in B.C.'s largest city.

35 years after it hit shelves, Anakana Schofield, another Vancouver writer, is organizing an event to bring some attention to the book, which has fallen off CanLit's radar.

"It's part of a "recovery project," says Schofield, "and perhaps a post-Olympian reclaim your city prod. As in - here is your long forgot city literature, take it, possess it, it's yours."

The event takes place in Vancouver tomorrow night, and will feature contributions and readings from Annabel Lyon,. Michael Turner, Clint Burnham and several others, as well as a Q&A with the author.

"Taxi! was the first work of fiction I read that was set in Vancouver and the first from the perspective of a working class woman", says Michael Turner. "Although I recognized the city I grew up in, I was (through the eyes of Potrebenko's female protagonist) taken to places in an order I was not familiar with, in ways I had not yet imagined. As a man, I could walk through walls to get what I wanted. Potrebenko reminded me that not all narrators are men, and that for a woman to negotiate her way through civic space requires many more fares than her masculine counterpart."

"I was struck by the intelligence and the humour and the sass of Taxi!." says Annabel Lyon. "And because my partner drives a cab, so much of it hit close to home. It's a sharp, edgy book, pure Vancouver, and deserves not to be forgotten."

Aside from a one night fete for the book, Schofield hopes to get it back into the CanLit canon: "Taxi! is both a vital Vancouver novel and a unique working class literary work that we hope to see taught in universities and schools again and acknowledged for it's contribution to the Canadian literary canon rather than forgotten about."

• "Taxi! @ 35" takes place on Thursday April 29, at 7:30 p.m. at Vancouver's The Central Library (350 West Georgia Street). Admission is free. For more information visit Anakana Schofield's blog.

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