Pain: Journeys Around My Parents


171 pages
ISBN 0-88962-709-6
DDC 792'.092





Reviewed by Pauline Carey

Pauline Carey is an actor, playwright, and fiction writer. She is the
author of Magic and What’s in a Name?


Keith Garebian, who has written extensively on North American theatre
and is also a published poet, was born in Bombay to an Armenian father
and an Anglo-Indian mother. The first part of his memoir deals
principally with his childhood in Bombay and the developing antagonism
between father and son, and ends with the family’s arrival in Canada
in 1961.

The change of country prompts a consideration of the “profound
displacement” that is one of the themes of the book, and the
intriguing thought that the hidden story of Canada is “not of Canadian
reticence ... it is a refusal to deal with the undesired past.” The
second part of the book, entitled “Armenia,” is a painful descent
into the cruelties of such a past. It deals with the Armenian genocide,
culminating in the horrors of 1915 that were the background of the
father’s childhood.

The memoir is a rich and stylistically ambitious. The reader is
continually thrown off balance as straightforward narrative is
interrupted by passages of arcane language, rhapsodic musings, epigrams,
and poems.

As Garebian touches on history and personal trauma, love for his mother
and fear of his father, and the healing balm of his passion for the
arts, he persuades us to face the eternal Canadian question, “Where do
you come from?”


Garebian, Keith., “Pain: Journeys Around My Parents,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 16, 2024,