Basic Black With Pearls
by Helen Weinzweig
A brilliant, lost feminist classic that is equal parts domestic drama and international intrigue.
Shirley Kaszenbowski, nee Silverberg, is a middle-aged, middle-class woman in a Holt Renfrew tweed coat, a basic black dress, and a strand of real pearls. She may seem ordinary enough, pricing silk scarves at Eaton's or idling in hotel coffee shops, but in fact she is searching for her lover. He is an elusive figure, a man connected with "The Agency," a powerful technocrat who may or may not have suggested a rendezvous based on a secret code in the National Geographic. Her search takes her to the world of her past as a Jewish immigrant in the Spadina-Dundas area of Toronto. She finds the bakeries and rooming houses of her youth still haunted by survivors of postwar Europe and by her own memories of guilt and loss, while the consolations of art, opera, and pornography offer only echoes of her own illusions and desires. Her strange, wryly funny odyssey ends in a dramatic confrontation scene with her husband and "the other woman," as she trades in her basic black for another chance.
In Basic Black with Pearls, Weinzweig displays her gift for creating sympathetic characters in a slightly surreal, but always recognizable world.
Paperback: 160 Pages
Product Dimensions: 130 x 204 mm
Published by New York Review of Books