Post

Canadian Literature, 212 / Spring 2012

Basketball, sailing, and hockey are sports that people play for the love of playing, if not for money, that rely as much on team dynamics as on the individual excellence of players. In Arley McNeney s Post, Nolan Taylor is on the "post" end of a prominent career as a women's wheelchair basketball player. Her profession and her personal relationships are equally at turning points as she faces a nebulous new future.

Set in contemporary New Westminster, BC, McNeney's narrative is spare and pared down in focus and in style. Brought to wheelchair basketball by a degenerative bone condition called capital femoral epiphisis that made her a partial paraplegic before she became a teenager, Nolan, now in her twenties, undergoes hip replacement surgery early in the novel. Erstwhile musician Quinn is Nolan's life-partner, but she calls on Darren, her first basketball coach and first lover, to guide her through the complexities of a new career as public speaker and coach. A hoped-for but unexpected pregnancy complicates the healing process and adds yet more pressures to the already cash-strapped young couple. Nolan's first-person narration is deeply concerned with corporeality, with the body's often painfully sensual relationship to surfaces and depths both internal and external. The metaphors of surgery and recovery, excision and pregnancy evoke precariousness rather than balance, threatening to undercut and topple more than to heal, amplifying the literal and figurative precariousness Nolan experiences as the radical surgery that should open doors for her seems ironically to close them instead.

Herself a former world champion wheelchair basketball player, McNeney brings the authority of personal experience to bear on Post, which she writes with impressive control and ambitious structure. Through Nolan's increasingly uneasy relationship with her body, her sport, and her loved ones, McNeney produces a provocative reflection on the unexpected contradictions of embodiment, physical ability, and healing. — Helene Staveley