Autumn Rounds by Jacques Poulin

Autumn Rounds by Jacques Poulin

Quebec fiction

Original title – La tournée d’automne

Translator – Sell Fischman

Source – personal copy

I read a book by Jacques Poulin mister Blue 5 years ago and loved it’s subtle tone and nature, but then forgot to get any other books by him. But it wasn’t to mention on the Moose and the Gripes podcast of him I remembered how much I had enjoyed that book it was a quiet book and quiet books for me are maybe great for autumn and I had brought this earlier this year and decided it would be a great start to autumn. Poulin is known for the intimate quiet nature of his writing he studied psychology and does seem to have a great view of human nature and how people deal with life.

In the Clarendon Bar, the driver got in the habit of sitting at the same table in a corner. First he’d check to see if Marie was there, then he’d order something light – a glass of wine, a beer, sometimes a Hot Chocolate sipping it slowly as he listened to Melodie and the band.

In this small dark room, where the ceiling fans weren’t able to drive away the blue cigarette smoke, Melodie was a different person; here, she didn’t;t try to make people laugh. It was moving to see how much sincerity she put into her interpretations of blues, especially the repertoire of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. If it weren’t for her accent, you’d have thought that she’d been born in the Deep South

His growing love for the Troop and the music mentioned is a perfect soundtrack to this novella

This is a quiet book that follows a man who is a driver of a bookmobile (we’d say a mobile library, I remember there was one used to go around Northumberland). He sets out a number of times each year to go around a number of small rural villages and towns in Quebec along the course of the St Lawrence river with the bookmobile collecting the books back in and lending out new books. So whilst he is just about to set out on his autumn round as it is called he sees a travelling troop of French entertainers acrobats one of this modern circus he is captivated by one of the troops a young woman that gives him a chill as he sees a lot of Katherine Hepburn. He falls in love with her and the trop how relaxed and fun they are he starts to Talk to Marie the Hepburn woman they connect and he tells her what he does about his van and the route he takes and the cat and just his life so when they decide to join him the two grow closers as they navigate the hinterlands of Quebec handing out books as this slow-burning romance unfold around the small village and books they are reading they connect.

The driver had finished reading the new books, both adult and children’s and he’d managed to find room for them on the shelves. That meant he didn’t have to transport them in boxes that he’d have had to stow in the cab behind the seats. The space was already taken up by two rather massive wooden chests:one contained all the tools for the truck, the other, manuscripts turned down by publishers, whose authors had entrusted them to the bookmobile in the hope of finding readers anyway- which did happen now and then.

He has shipped three boxes of books to the municipal library in Baie-Comeu, the town he would reach mid-tour, and once there, he would restock his shelves

The bookmobile was stocked ready to go I had a look at the library at Baie-comeu after reading this passage(do you do that check-up places on google ?)

I love this book as I struggle with confidence my life seems to step forward to steps back at the moment this was a perfect book I am really struggling to get into a lot of books I had read 200 pages of an Estonian epic which I had actually like but then just wasn’t able to face 300 plus pages at the moment then I look at this and knew and was right there is a time for quiet books and this is the time autumn is nearly here I am able to read a novella like this I was reminded how much I loved these sort of books and writers those that don’t have fireworks but are slow burning and thoughtful books. For another writer like this, I would be Patrick Modiano. Poulin draws us into the world of the driver his bookmobile and his blossoming romance over one autumn around the edges of Quebec as a romance slowly blossoms as the season turns. I will be getting the other Poulin books that Archipelago have in print as he is a writer I am growing to love. I’d love to know your favourite quiet writers in translation maybe other short books I could get to try at the moment.

Winstons score – A a subtle romance amongst the books on a bookmobile as a romance

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa Hill
    Sep 06, 2022 @ 12:23:34

    Oh, that is a very good recommendation, I love Modiano, I rally must read his Occupation Trilogy before long…

    Reply

  2. kaggsysbookishramblings
    Sep 06, 2022 @ 18:23:54

    Sounds perfect, and obviously the right book at the right time Stu!

    Reply

  3. roughghosts
    Sep 06, 2022 @ 20:20:52

    I also have this book, Stu. Great idea for an autumn read—when I am ready to accept that the season has arrived!

    Reply

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