Tatouine by Jean-Christophe Rehel

Tatouine by Jean-Christophe Rehel

Quebecian fiction

Original title – Ce qu’on respire sur tatouine

TranslatorsKatherin Hastings Peter McCambridge

Source – review copy

In recent years I have always raved about the great fiction coming from Quebec in the last few years. It has been a while since I have reviewed one so this came out a while ago and is from QC fiction. The writer of this book Jean Christophe Rehel is a poet and also does radio shows. He like the main character in this book suffers from cystic fibrosis. A disease that taints his hand a lot, indeed he explores a lot the themes of loneliness, fatigue, and illness His writing is however tinged with a lot of humor, often self-deprecating. His works describe both the beauty and the blandness of everyday life it says on his Wikipedia page. I agree with this and this is a great example of this.

The days are long. By the end of the first shift, I considered committing Hari-Kiri between the hunting magazines and the Maurice tourism guides. But I didn’t . I’ve never had such a thing as a boring summer job. I never thought I’d get hired at a tourist office, but unfortunately for me, I was the only applicant. Nobody ever comes in. I arrange the brouches and sweep the floor and stare at the celling.Every now and again, Charles , the guy who works in the park, drops by for a chat. I can talk to him about star wars and my obsession with the planes Tatouine I think about my life. Not very original, I know; everyone trhinks about their life.

This is the opening andf a great example of the stream of consciousness style of writing.

We meet our narrator he reminds me of a character that has either fallen off the page of a Douglas Coupland novel orClerks the film he has just caught that world so well the narrator is working collecting trolleys at the Super C a convenience store In Canada. But what he does is to cover his mundane existence by thinking he lives on the desert planet of Tatouine where Luke skywalker lived and that has recently returned in the new star wars series the Madolrian. He mixes his everyday life with a sort of daydream world of star wars and other cultural references from the last twenty years from Die hard movies to the music of the white stripes. Of course, the world is an escape from the life he lives from reading a book he took off a friend’s shelf. Which he retitles The desert and mountains of Cystic Fibrosis. It captures the loneliness of suffering and living with a limiting condition as he uses his dreams to escape the pain in his everyday life. As the book draws to the end he discovers the set is still in Tunisia and is planning to try and visit the earth-based Tatouine is his health holds out.

I’m in the little waiting room at the pharmacy. I think Qui-Gon Jinn’s my favourite Jedi. A guy the same age as me is holding a baby in his arms; it’s screaming blue murde. It reminds me a little of Elliot smith. I pull a face at babies behind people’s back. Weirtd, I know, but it it what it is. I watch the baby’s eyes widen in surprise, which makes me laugh. It stps crying, forgets why it was sad. It stares at me. I pull another face. It can’t believe it, I wish it worked forme,too. I wish people would pull faces at me on every block.

There is a sense of humour in some places like here where he teases a babe at the pharmacists.

I as many of you know always rave about QC books I have reviewed a number of the last few years and the books they choose to translate always seem to be ones I really get into. Here is a perfect example a gen x narrator as saying he reminds me especially of the characters in clerks the way the writer uses the narrator’s daydream world to make his mundane life seem exciting as he uses his love of mainly Star wars to dream a better world than he lives in. This is a modern life lonely cut-off and remote it sees the world through the eyes of a limited life what worked is that when I read that Jean-Christophe himself suffered from CF a lung condition that makes the suffer tired and prone to illness needing thinks like postal drainage to help clear lungs. In a modern novel about modern life, there are hundreds of single men that live in a world like a narrator with a life with added star wars narrative added to it. What book reminds you of the fast going modern world of use living lonelier lives that before .

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kaggsysbookishramblings
    Dec 03, 2020 @ 19:41:11

    I’ve just read my first QC book and it was brilliant and devastating at the same time. Obviously a publisher to explore!

    Reply

  2. Lisa Hill
    Dec 03, 2020 @ 21:56:24

    Yes, I agree… a QC publisher sent me a book for review a while ago, but I’ve never heard from him since… and QC books just never get into our bookshops here so it’s very frustrating.

    Reply

  3. Bellezza
    Dec 04, 2020 @ 00:08:39

    I love that stream of consciousness style, from which I can tell there is humor, and a subtle piercing quality as well. Thanks for reminding me about this book and showing us its best qualities.

    Reply

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