Book review: I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, by Julia Mendenhall

Mendenhall Mermaids SingingMendenhall, Julia. I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing. Arsenal Pulp. 149p. $14.95. PB. 978-1-55152-564-8.

Julia Mendenhall’s smart book tells the deep story of a groundbreaking Canadian film, in which, the author argues, the filmmaker produces a study of queer theory before the term even existed in the academy. 1987’s I heard the Mermaids Singing, by Patricia Rozema, mixes fantasy elements with a photographer’s journeys around Toronto, a journey that follows a sexual and polymorphous perverse awakening on the part of this photographer. Using in-depth original interviews with the creators, original production documents, and as well as a vast yet insightful use of existing film criticism on this lesbian classic, which took Cannes by storm in 1987. Features clear, expressive photographs. Recommended for collections with queer, Canadian, and/or feminist film and cinema.

Joel A. Nichols, Librarian
Philadelphia

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