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With a Closed Fist: Growing Up in Canada's Toughest Neighborhood
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With a Closed Fist: Growing Up in Canada's Toughest Neighborhood

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  36 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Offering a glimpse into the culture of extreme poverty, this memoir is an insider’s view into a neighborhood then described as the toughest in Canada. Point St. Charles is an industrial slum in Montreal which is now in the process of gentrification, but during Kathy Dobson’s childhood, people moved for one of two reasons: their apartment was on fire or the rent was due. Wh ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 1st 2012 by Véhicule Press (first published October 1st 2011)
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This story made me a little less cocky about being Canadian (and living in the United States). It showed me a part of my country that I don't like to think exists; I know better.
In the spirit of Angela's Ashes and Glass Castles, With a Closed Fist tells what would otherwise horrifying story from the eyes of a child without the judgements we adults would place on it. It is a story of resilience and courage, of hope and determination. I won't say I'll never complain about my less than ideal child
"With a Closed Fist" gives us an honest and intensely personal look at a fascinating childhood story. Kathy's view of the world doesn't attempt to be objective or all encompassing, but shows us the circumstances as they were to a young girl growing up in them, including poverty, family, religion, and neighborhood feuds. Particularly fascinating is the subtle growth of the narrator from beginning to end. This is not a happily ever after type story, but one where the circumstances have consequence ...more
Andrew Porteus
A powerful memoir of a young girl's experience growing up in a tough Montreal neighbourhood. Having grown up in a quiet suburb I found it hard to imagine the gritty reality that the author and her sisters lived in - from lack of food to midnight changes of address to the complex family relationships that were part and parcel of everyday life. A tantalizing glimpse is given as to how the author managed to get out of the cycle of poverty and violence - a further book on the changes she made to her ...more
1) ''I've always lived in fear of going to the bathroom. I know if I sit on the toilet for more than a couple of minutes, I risk having a rat crawl up the pipes and bite me on the ass. I stomp my feet, peeing as quickly as possible while singing 'The Unicorn Song' so loudly my mom yells at me to stop yelling.''

2) ''Every Victoria Day the Point almost burns to the ground. People go crazy with firecrackers, sparklers, burning shitbags, and homemade firebombs. Anyone who owns a car doesn't leave it
Surprises all the way through this memoir -- it's a different world to the one I grew up in. A neighbourhood I might have driven through, a little scared, a little curious, but to really know how it works, you need to ask a child. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, full of energy, and of the little child views, perceptions, misconceptions and start reality that was Point St. Charles in the '70s.
With a Closed Fist: Growing Up in Canada's Toughest Neightbourhood was a great book! It is a story of Kathy Dobson and her family growing up in Point St. Charles. Even though Kathy had a rough life her sense of humour came through in this book. I would recommend this book to my fellow readers.
Based on the style and organization of this book, it's clear the author had a good editor. It reads like a jumble of memories selectively pasted together to form a narrative out of what it basically a normal life. I appreciated the fact that not much was made of the abuse, not because it's not an important issue, but because instead of victimising herself, the author showed that she got through, a testament to her strength. The abusers don't play much of a role, and that's good: they deserve to ...more
Pretty ambivalent about the story line.... didn't keep me interested, and the end of the story left me wondering if I'd missed something. Not my favorite read of the year
I was disappointed.
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With a Closed Fist Author at Algoma University 1 4 Jan 11, 2012 07:56PM  
Kathy's first book With a Closed Fist was released November 1st.

A "gutsy, no-holds-barred, coming-of-age story," With a Closed Fist chronicles Kathy and her sisters growing up in Point St. Charles, a slum of Montréal that was then considered the toughest neighbourhood in Canada.

Kathy has a B.A. from the University of Waterloo and two certificates in social work. A journalist, her work has appeare
More about Kathy Dobson...
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