Diary of a Trademark


90 pages
ISBN 0-919754-51-1
DDC C811'.54





Reviewed by Dennis Denisoff

Dennis Denisoff teaches English at McGill University, and is the author
of Dog Years and Tender Agencies.


This collection of poetry and prose addresses the notion of
self-realization amid social apathy and hatred. The text stands out
because of its brutal honesty; its confident willingness to address
diverse personal concerns and anxieties; its constant, unflinching
exploration of the diseased and uncontrolled recesses of our society;
and its rare and frail flights into compassion and forgiveness.

Centred on the perceptions of a man suffering from AIDS-related
illnesses, the book tracks the narrator as he shifts from experience to
experience, from quotidian to astonishing. At times the details and
images get so thick that it becomes impossible to continue visualizing
the descriptions; that, of course, may be part of the point—the
author’s desire to bring about a microcosmic version of society’s
general apathy to AIDS, or to portray another aspect of it, other than
the more familiar images of sympathy and enlightenment. Indeed, one of
the book’s most effective strategies is its lack of a clear narrative
development. Instead, Stephens presents the individual not as just a
trademark or signifier of illness, but as a human being with emotions
and desires that form an identity beyond marking, trading, and


Stephens, Ian., “Diary of a Trademark,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/6502.