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Holding Still for as Long as Possible

Written by Zoe Whittall

Series Title: Anansi Book Club Editions

  • 312 Pages
  • 9781770898073
  • 7.75" x 5"
  • FICTION / Lesbian
  • FICTION / Literary



Publication Date April 05, 2014

A dazzling portrait of twenty-somethings who grew up on text-messaging and the war on terror.

In this robust, elegantly plotted, and ultimately life-affirming novel, Zoe Whittall presents a dazzling portrait of the Millennial Generation — the twenty-five-year olds who grew up on anti-anxiety meds, text-messaging each other truncated emotional reactions, unsure of what's public and what's private.

Holding Still explores an unusual love triangle involving Billy, a former teen idol, now an anxiety-ridden agoraphobic; Josh, a shy transgendered paramedic who travels the city patching up damaged bodies; and Amy, a fashionable filmmaker coping with her first broken heart. With this extraordinary novel, Whittall gives us startlingly real portraits of three unforgettable characters, and proves herself to be one of our most talented writers.

Winner of the Earla Dunbar Memorial Award 2010

Winner of the Lambda Literary Awards: Transgender Fiction 2011

Short-listed for the ReLit Award 2010

Selected for the Stonewall Honor Book in Literature 2011

Short-listed for the Lambda Literary Awards: Lesbian Fiction 2011


Zoe Whittall

Zoe Whittall is the author of The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life (2001), The Emily Valentine Poems (2006), and Precordial Thump (2008), and the editor of Geeks, Misfits, & Outlaws (2003). Her debut novel Bottle Rocket Hearts (2007) made the Globe and Mail Top 100 Books of the Year and CBC Canada Reads’ Top Ten Essential Novels of the Decade. Her second novel Holding Still for as Long as Possible (2009) won a Lambda Literary Award and was an American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book. Her writing has appeared in the Walrus, the Believer, the Globe and Mail, the National Post, Fashion, and more. She has also worked as a writer and story editor on the TV shows Degrassi and Schitt’s Creek. Born in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, she has an MFA from the University of Guelph and lives in Toronto.


"...the talented young author strips away the technological facade and reveals what really goes on in the lives and minds of some of today's young's her gift for capturing the various anxieties and fears of this generation that leaves a lasting impression." matrix

"...Whittall has an astounding command of language." The Link

"...Whittall is a dexterous puppeteer, and the book is unputdownable." Globe and Mail

"...Whittall is a writer of richly nuanced characters. There's not a flubbed note in any of the voices. Whittall has still made a grand entertainment out of everyday collisions." Eye Weekly

"...a story that really speaks to the generation while offering some sage advice about living & there are moments of genuine, understated authenticity, especially in Whittall's depiction of complex human dynamics." FFWD

"All three characters are well crafted: at once unique, yet easily recognizable...Whittall never shies away from displaying their flaws or their problems..." Quill & Quire

"Breathless, jolting and sputtering with vitality, Holding Still For As Long As Possible explores the inevitable expiry date on lives and relationships, and our white-knuckle struggle to hang on to both." Canadian Literature

"Holding Still holds an astonishingly astute mirror to a generation still struggling to define itself. A fine sophomore novel by one of Canada's most promising young writers." Westender

"In Holding Still for as Long as Possible, the awareness of mortality intersects with the romantic restlessness of youth. It makes for a story whose vital signs are fully present and robust." Toronto Star

"Whittall's writing has a tremendous amount of youthful energy...This is a real Toronto story, set against SARS and fears about terrorism." Quill & Quire

"Whittall's writing is vibrant, funny, and smart. She uses the power of the pop culture reference responsibly; rather than inundate, she picks her spots with effective mentions from a delectably oddball arsenal that ranges from Waydowntown to Designing Women...this novel firmly pigeonholes her as a kick-ass writer." Rover Arts

"With Holding Still, Whittall has established herself as a writer of immense vitality and courage; she stands as the voice of a lost, but thanks to her not forgotten generation: the boys and girls who will inherit the Earth." National Post

"Like a seasoned paramedic of the soul Whittall cares for the vitality of her reader in an incompareably fearless fashion." The Review

"Readable and intelligent." Geist

"An unforgettable depiction of growing up in the new millennium." Booklist

"Holding Still for as Long as Possible is part of an exciting new wave of books highlighting trans characters without making their gender the book's primary focus . . . well-developed . . ." Curve

"Holding Still For As Long As Possible is a foul-mouthed, hard-drinking, casual-sexing book. At its heart, though, Whittall’s brilliantly simple novel is a good old-fashioned love story, charming and compelling. And it feels true." Bull Calf