Vanity, incompetence, and my ill-fated left eye

by Genevieve Ann Chornenki

Book Cover: Don't Lose Sight
ISBN: 978-1-77180-480-6
ISBN: 978-1-77180-480-6
ISBN: 978-1-77180-480-6

When Genevieve Chornenki escapes a brush with blindness, things never looked better—city pigeons, people, stainless steel pots. But questions about her experience linger: Who was responsible for her close call? Can she safeguard other people’s eyesight? How do our eyes work, anyway, and why do they give so much pleasure? With a newborn baby and a background in dispute resolution, Genevieve sets her sights on answers. The results aren’t always what she went looking for. Don't Lose Sight is the author’s quest, pursued with humour, hubris, and tenacity.

Publisher: Iguana Books


"They need not be Damascus raptures, our moments of soul."
—Christian Wiman

I spy with both my eyes.

A gigantic rose in the deepest of purples, daubed here and there with celadon and washed with blue-grey. A red cabbage on my cutting board.

One at a time I snap off its outer petals, then briskly bifurcate the brassica with a sharp knife. Layered treasures line its interior. Waves of garnet. Veins of opal. Sparks of amethyst. Tourmaline. I reduce these cabbage-gems to shreds and mound them in a pot. It’s an ordinary stainless steel pot from Ikea, but it brims with wonder, and I with childish delight.

“William. Come and see!” My husband obliges and together we contemplate the contents of the pot. “Man,” I say. “Is that not amazing?”


Forget seeing Machu Picchu. This meal-in-the-making is my peak pleasure. Cut red cabbage calls up reverence and awe. How come? Because, Joni, I do know what I’ve got before it’s gone. Because my ability to see this cabbage—all of it, in depth, without distortion—was in peril. Because I got lucky, and I know it.

Something happened. And then something else and then something more. Many things, seen and unseen, beginning with my left eye.

Reviews:Kim Echlin, author of Speak, Silence wrote:

"To look and to see. Genevieve Chornenki teaches us to see fresh in this wonderful memoir about a serious eye condition. She artfully blinks and shows us her world of love and relationship and wit. She invites us to share her outrage and gratitude, her joy and her fabulous humour. Read this book!"

Russell Smith, author of Blindsided: How Twenty Years of Writing About Booze, Drugs and Sex Ended in the Blink of an Eye wrote:

"Don't Lose Sight is a gripping and sensitive account of the web of implications and complications that can spread from a retinal detachment, and a clever reflection on the extreme fragility of the superpower that is vision."

About the Author

Genevieve Chornenki is a dispute resolution consultant and emerging writer based in Toronto, Canada. She holds Master of Laws in Alternative Dispute Resolution from Osgoode Hall Law School, a Certificate in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto, and a Certificate in Publishing from Ryerson University. Her works include Bypass Court: A Dispute Resolution Handbook and When Families Start Talking, a CBC Ideas radio documentary. Visit her at or email her a