If I knew, don’t you think I’d tell you?

If I Knew, Don’t You Think I’d Tell You?  Selected Journals of Jann Arden – Jann Arden (2002, Insomniac Press, Toronto)

Although she’s now one of my favourite people to follow on Twitter (@jannarden), Calgary singer-songwriter-artist-actress-activist Jann Arden once upon a time kept a running online journal (she still blogs at www.jannarden.com).  If I Knew… is a print compilation of some of her journal entries circa 2000-2002, a chronological mash-up of musings and deeply personal thoughts.  It’s a trite, clichéd expression, but Arden really does wear her heart on her sleeve:

Home.  That place that burns in our memories, like a memory is supposed to; a tire swinging from a tree, an old dog, a sandwich on a plate, picking burrs from your good school pants, fresh air, a quarter in your pocket, the wind catching your breath and carrying it away with all your troubles.  Home.

I pull into the driveway and I am 10 years old.  I go straight to the fridge and open it up and eat whatever is sitting there from the night before.  I call their names, and I hear them answer from up the stairs, “We’re up here!”

And I am home and safe and sound and I am nobody at all, except for theirs…I belong to them.

Sentimental, witty, poignant, hilarious, sharp and biting, Arden’s journals cover the gamut of emotion – and her topics are all over the map.  Family, sex, religion, war, death, 9-11, art, music, her pet cats, her hometown, her childhood…it’s all there, open pages for us to read.  Because of the intimacy of the journal format, you could feel a little like a voyeur, but Arden’s voice and her casual, let’s-sit-down-for-coffee-and-I’ll-tell-you-about-what-I’m-thinking tone envelopes the reader and draws you in closer.  And after awhile, you sorta forget that she’s famous, which is really, really cool.

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