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Holding Still For As Long As Possible

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  748 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
What is it like to grow into adulthood with the war on terror as your defining political memory, with SARS and Hurricane Katrina as your backdrop? In this robust, elegantly plotted, and ultimately life-affirming novel, Zoe Whittall presents a dazzling portrait of a generation we've rarely seen in literature -- the twenty-five-year olds who grew up on anti-anxiety meds, tex ...more
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published September 15th 2009 by House of Anansi Press
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Oct 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian
I don't really pay much attention before I buy a book. I don't really know the process that gets me to pick one up. I do know some bits of it like if I put it on the pile I probably won't buy it till someone gives me crap about the pile being too high, and god knows when I'll read it. But if I'm walking along and I see something and I think, "God I really need that book" not only will I buy it but I'll probably start reading it right away (With the exception being if I think that 4 times in on
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was ok

(ETA par. at end)

this is a self-consciously 20-something book in which life is lived mostly at night -- people work during the day but their workdays seem unimportant -- in a drifty sort of way, fueled by extravagant quantities of alcohol, constant personal interaction (conducted in person or through text messages) and very little sleep. the 20-somethingness is conveyed, i take, by the choppiness of the narrative, the characters' restless sexual lives, their promiscuity, their great reliance on
Feb 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, queer, canadian
OMG, where has this author been all my life? This book is epic! It's literally the only queer book I've ever read and enjoyed. I say this as a queer person; usually, the books that are written by and for our community do nothing for me, make me feel like my life is some sort of a cliche. This book is freaking great.

There's a long list of things I liked about this book. The narrative style isn't traditional or easy- there are three main characters, and they all take turns narrating- but Whittall
This was a shallow, dull book, populated by superficial characters about whom I did not care. During the story's climax, I found it very easy to put this book down to do several hours of data entry, during which time I thought about the book exactly zero times.

The writing was occasionally very, very bad. My girlfriend and I had a good laugh over lines like this, "Even in Toronto, 1,791 km from New Orleans, people wore the after-effects of Hurricane Katrina on their faces like badly matched liqui
Feb 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, ladyish, 2011
So you feel like you should like Michelle Tea because her characters are like, young and working class and queer so you feel like you have so much in common you just have to like her books, but in reality she irritates you and makes you feel alienated and her writing style feels simultaneously drug-addled and pretentious? (I FUCKING SAID IT. FINALLY. THAT FEELS GREAT) Then you should read Zoe Whittall.

Zoe's characters are queer people in their mid-twenties, floating around between parties, shit
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, romance
So this killed me a little. Exactly the worst/best timing to be reading this.
Jean Roberta
May 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
“YOU PROBABLY like to imagine your death the way it should be: You are old. By old, you mean ready to die. Resolved. You are in bed, with your mind intact and loved ones encircling you. Your regrets are few; your pain minimal. Your last words: golden.”

So opens a novel that is both timeless and contemporary, set in Toronto. If you suspect that this beginning does not foreshadow a serenely predictable death, you’d be right. This is a novel in which there’s always the possibility of violence and s
Jul 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, canadian
In her second novel, Zoe Whittall follows a group of twentysomethings struggling to cope with their complicated lives. Trapped somewhere between growing up and being grown-ups, these would-be adults hide behind excessive drinking and partying, and use text messages to relay their emotions.

The story focuses on three troubled young people: Billy, a former teen pop starlet who suffers from sever panic attacks; Josh, a paramedic whose ability to patch up injured patients parallels his inability to r
Dec 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was SO GOOD. I read it quickly, straight through, and found it utterly absorbing. The complexity of the relationships felt so real and palpable to me, and the use of the alternating narrators was not gimmicky, it made the book make sense in a deep way - it was really a portrait of a tiny corner of a queer community that I found really recognizable, rather than being a book about a single protagonist. There were a lot of potent, visual scenes, and conversations whose awkwardness felt fa ...more
Aug 02, 2014 rated it liked it
I am so very sick of the "centre of the universe", and although I found it trying that this book seems to demand a familiarity with Toronto geography, the rest of the book was all right (if you happen to know a little about Toronto's layout, it will likely increase your enjoyment of the book). There's a nicely-written trans* character whose experience isn't all about being trans* per se. One of the characters is treated terribly by the author (and depression/anxiety seem somewhat trivialized as ...more
Levi Amichai
Nov 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer, lit-lit, trans, class, au-f, au-qt
I wasn't liking this much until about two thirds of the way through, but somehow by the end I was liking it a lot. It looks like it's going to be yet another book about people being mean to one another for no reason except that's the human condition, doncha know, but then sometimes instead of resenting each other for no reason at all they decide to love each other for no reason at all, and whoops, suddenly you have high literary fiction where people are a bit optimistic about the human condition ...more
Nicki Hill
i liked it. maybe i really liked it, i can't decide. i loved how well whittall described anxiety and panic attacks, it felt like being understood while i was reading those parts. i also loved how there was a main character who was trans, but that was not the focus of his story. a part of it for sure, but almost (almost) incidental. just part of a group of people living their lives, it was refreshing.
Aug 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So many 20-something feelings captured in one place! Excellent characterization. Strong writing style. A good sense of time and place -- I'm a sucker for setting.

When I got to Life 4, I had a moment of feeling like "shit, this is where we're going? Why? And why didn't I see it coming?" But it passed and, with the exception of how Billy's anxiety was handled, I liked the ending.
Apr 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian, lgbt
This book and its characters really grew on me.
Jul 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Don't judge this book by the trying-too-hard marketing copy about SARS and Katrina. The characters are excellently-written and I loved the story.
Sassafras Lowrey
Jul 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
zoe whittal is such a brilliant writer
Kit A.
Jan 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
beautiful & heart-breakingly relatable; such a fantastic read.
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This was selected by my Goodreads Canadian Content group as the monthly group read for August, in conjunction with our monthly challenge to read books about LGBTQ characters or written by LGBTQ authors. I was happy that my library hold came through in time to read it for the group read and challenge.

The story follows a group of twenty something friends in Toronto as they try to figure out what they're going to do with their lives, something a lot of people that age struggle with. Josh is a trans
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Holding Still For as Long as Possible is a decent book. I wouldn’t say it should be considered a favourite of mine at all, but it’s definitely worth reading. It had everything from relatable character to complex emotions, yet it lacked a clear climax.

The book had so many characters and each one seemed very realistic and different from one another. With such a diverse cast, it was impossible not to be able to identify with at least one of them (personally, I felt connected to Billy). With each un
Philip Gordon
Feb 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
When I was perusing the fiction section at my local Chapters, this title grabbed my eye as an entry in the list of contemporary novels I've been meaning to check out. I pulled it from the shelf, flipped it open, and scanned a couple paragraphs to see if I could justify spending a chunk of my meager pay-cheque on purchasing it.

The section I read in the store was Billy's description of her thoughts during a panic attack. I was hooked, and brought the book home that day.

Reading from start to finish
Aug 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm pretty sure I'm not in the demographic the author had in mind for reading this book. I'm a long way from being a twenty something and even when I was, I did not live the kind of life the characters in this book did. But, I thought it was well written and an interesting peek into a kind of life with which I am not at all familiar.
May 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Picked this up because I thought it might be similar to Take This Waltz, was not wrong
Feb 28, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book more than I usually do books speaking to the younger generation. However, it is telling that a couple of weeks after reading it I really can' remember much about it.
❀ Susan G
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Review pending.
Dec 08, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
(view spoiler) ...more
Jul 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbtqia
you've heard about people going to and fro on the idea of the category of new adult? i don't know if zoe whittall would classify it this way but holding still for as long as possible is the kind of book i want to see published under that genre. twenty-somethings wandering about! reading this felt like reading ya did when i was a preteen, like my life wasn't entirely like the characters but i could recognize them, they were somewhere i would be soon. it'd be nice to have a genre that could do tha ...more
Em Milling
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Oh my GAHD. The last 50 pages killed me, right in the heart, with a big scary knife. This book is great, and has definitely become one of my favourites. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started it, but it definitely had everything you want in a book.

The characters were so well developed, I felt like I was living their lives. All of them. Although Amy didn't have as much focus as Billy or Josh, it did seem towards the end that her narrative role was crucial in the overall scheme. Thi
Reading Zoe Whittall’s Toronto-set novel Holding Still For As Long As Possible is kind of like reading a wittier, more exciting version of my urban early-to-mid-twenties queer life in the 2000s. It was fun and nostalgic for me to jump back into this world, but it is uncanny to read a book featuring characters that are so much like you and the communities you’ve known. I mean, in a good and a bad way: these are white, bike-riding, middle-class background, artsy, educated, FAAB queers. Unfortunate ...more
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am a member of, a monthly subscription that can easily be described as Netflix’s for books. Each week I tend to read whatever I have gotten in the mail and leave the stacks and stacks (or shelves and shelves) or my personal collection sadly unopened. However, on a recent trip to Puerto Plata with my best friend and sister-in-law, I decided to leave the rental books at home to avoid charges in case any were lost or stolen and dive into my own literary stash.

I bought this book for
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Zoe Whittall's latest novel, The Best Kind of People, spent 26 consecutive weeks on the Globe bestseller list, was shortlisted for the Giller Prize, was Indigo Best Book of the Year, Heather's Pick, Globe and Mail Best Book, Toronto Life Best Book of 2016, Walrus Magazine Best Book of 2016 . The film/TV rights have been optioned by Sarah Polley who will write and direct. She has two previous nove ...more
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“That's creativity in a nutshell. A messy tug-of-war with imagination to erase that feeling that nothing really matters anyway.” 15 likes
“I am having a quarter-life crisis," I announced to my mother.

"My generation never had those, we just had babies and thought about killing them from time to time.”
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