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The Queen of Peace Room By Magie Dominic

Jacket: Paperback
Pages: 114 pages
Publisher: Wilfrid Laurier University Press; (2002)
Genre: Life Writing > Autobiography
ISBN: 0889204179

Comments about the author: Magie Dominic was born in Corner Brook Newfoundland. She studied at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh; New School University; Franklin Furnace; Open Theatre and with the founding members of the Off-Off Broadway movement. Her writing and artwork have been published, printed, exhibited or produced in over one hundred quarterlies, newspapers, magazines, anthologies, theatre productions, librettos, art galleries and books. Vist the author's website

Review: Resting in my hands is a slender book. Its cover has a black matte finish that is pleasing to the touch and a picture crafted by the author that effortlessly holds my attention. This book, its cover, the paper used to embrace what will become some of the most illuminative words I have read in a long while, and the graceful artwork therein, all form a package that is difficult to release. I hold this book for a long while then manage to put it down only to return to hold it again later. I know about the subject matter that resides between the covers of this work because its author Magie Dominic wrote to me about the narrative that lives there. I know she writes with an eloquence to which I am unaccustomed. I also know that once I begin to read what I know will be an intense autobiographical chronicle; I won’t be able to stop. Maybe its because I do know what’s there that I hesitate to begin. Yes. And that’s why I hold on to this small, beautiful book but have a hard time starting the journey.

When I do begin to read The Queen of Peace Room I am immediately rewarded. The prose is solid, it’s beautiful, and it’s satiating. Make no mistake, this story is disturbing but its telling is done with such a light touch that I barely feel the sting until I put it down. Then it won’t leave my mind.

I grew up in a world so radically different from Magie Dominic’s that I find myself having to catch my breath as I try and place myself inside of her world – inside of her being. Tucked between the covers of this willowy book is a narrative so immense it’s just barely contained by the fine matte jacket surrounding the work. The things that go to make up this life I can only imagine.

She was a victim of sexual abuse at the age of seven or eight at the hands of a metaphorical Cyclopes. Like Polyphemus from Homer's Odyssey, Dominic’s tormentor was fond of warm, moist, human flesh. Greedily he gorged himself on a child’s mind, body, and dignity. The beast’s hideous glass eye perched on the family car’s dashboard watched impassively as a child became prey. An unblinking witness to a horror no human should ever endure.

In the 1960s, she was stalked, beaten, and raped by an unknown assailant. She plunged into a deep depression and attempted suicide only to be comforted by a mother who made it clear that all of this trauma had absolutely no place in public discussion – no place ruining the family’s Christmas.

The Queen of Peace Room unfolds, as Magie Dominic unfolds, during an eight-day retreat in a place safe from the intruding world surrounded by the love of kindred spirits and the hushed quietude of nature. In a deeply personal and inviting tone, Magie takes us into the deepest folds of her life. She leads us through a wilderness of pain, humiliation, death and finally to a serene place where a harnessed field meets a wild meadow. Here, at this locus in time and space we see the transformation of Magie Dominic from whatever she may have been in the past, to an exquisite though solitary butterfly resting in the stillness on a tall blade of grass: whole, complete, and good.

The Queen of Peace Room is expansive life writing. The tragedy bound in this tale is epic. Yet, there is affirmation in Magie Dominic and in her story. The refusal of one human soul to let go of its dignity, its absolute unwillingness to surrender, is genuinely heroic. Reading this made me cherish the brutal privilege of being human – like the one who wrote this story. Like the one who lives this life.

— Reviewed by: Timothy E. McMahon, M.S.


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