Document 1 by François Blais

Document 1 by François Blais

Candian Quebecian fiction

Original title – Document 1

Translator – JC Sutcliffe

Source – review copy

When someone from Book*hug contacted me to review two of there latest books in translation. I couldn’t say no, I have enjoyed all the books in the last couple of years I have read from Quebec. So I choose Document 1 first to read. As François Blais is considered something of an underground superhero of Quebec literature. This is his most successful book when it came out in French in 2013 he has written nine novels and a collection of short stories. This is his first book to be translated into English.

One amusing and instructive way of learning about America is exploring the Family Watchdog website (www.family-watchdog.us), a service that allows American citizens to learn whether anyone in their neighbourhood has been convicted of a sex crime. The home page asks for the name of a town. Let’s choose ne at random: Anchorage, Alaska. A map pops up with a constellation of little coloured squares corresponding t the houses and workplaces of criminals.

A site that shows the location of all sex offenders in America and we find the colours lead to type of criminals. Another rabbit hole for Tess and Jude.

This is the tale of two slackers in a way. Tess and Jude are daydreamers, they love nothing more than searching google maps for those odd named places in America like Chicken in Alaska and Boring Oregon two examples given in the book. But the one place they really like is a place in Bird in hand Pennslyvania. Which they discover it is nearly a ten-hour drive from there Quebec small town of Grand-Mere.That sets the two on planning how they could make the journey there. That makes them search and leads them to Sebastien Daoust a writer. They then make use of the one writer Sebastien locally. He is a small time writer. They fake an application from him “Hence the document one of the title the title of the document they wrote on Microsoft word”  for arts grant to write a book in the dying travelogue genre as they put it citing books like Sterne’s sentimental journey through France and Italy and Diderot’s journey to Holland. They end up buying a Monte Carlo car and have a dog to come with them on this road trip. But as they are maybe more dreamers than realist!! read the book to see what happens to Tess and Jude.

For a long time, Bird-in-Hand was basically little more than a market. The Amish came there to sell their products a couple of times a week, then went back to their farms. On non-market days, it was essentially a ghost town, with a population that barely made it to three figures. Things changed in1911, when Jonathan stoltzfus brought a sixty-acre farm in the area. Later on, his sons opened a hotel and started devolping tourism in the region.Today, his decendants (The Smuckers) own just about all the two’s businesses.You’re going to say, “If the guy was called Stoltzfus, why would his descendants be called Smucker?” Well, Smucker sounds more American, which is better for Buisnees.Simple as that

I liked the little pen history of the town they want to visit.

Earlier last month the Wodehouse prize was canceled this year for a lack of witty and comic novels. Well, this would have been up there it has a wry dry humor of the underdog world. Tess and Jude reminded me of those characters Magnus mills wrote in his early books those trapped in their own world without really knowing they are. Also, there is a nod in a way to fellow Canadian slacker writer Douglas Coupland the parts on the computer remind me of scenes from his books like Microserfs those endless rabbit holes of searches. I used to love the old zip code stories in National Geographic a patient I looked after used to buy them and we’d look at the different places they had chosen. Similar to Tess and Jude’s odd named towns searches. A tragic tale of two dreamers trapped in their own worlds. This made me smile when I hadn’t had a lot to smile in the last couple of weeks.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: That was the month that was May 2018 | Winstonsdad's Blog

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