To see out the night by David Clerson

To see out the night by David Clerson

Quebec fiction

Original title –  Dormir sans tête

Translator – Katia Grubisic

Source – review copy

If you have followed this blog over the last couple of years. You will know how much I have loved the books that the Canadian publisher QC fiction has been bringing out. Here is the second book by one of my favorite writers David Clerson his book The brothers is a strange tale of two brothers on is made from the limb of his bigger brother here we have a collection of twelve short stories by Clerson. I decide to review it as early as I could get away with as like his earlier novel these stories are a real treat to the reader.

The summer was unbearably hot. Louis’s apartment was an oven, and he sat in the sweltering heat reading about primates. He learned that orangutans were solitary and territorial, that they ate fruit, shoots,eggs,insects, and invertebrates, and that they are constantly on the move building a new nest of branches every night. The cries of the males were powerful, and could be carry over a kilometer or kore. Louis could almost here them in the distance. The fangs of an ape in one photograph terrified.He saw others, victims of hunters or held in poacher cages

He vecomes obsessed and feels an ape with in him as he learns more about the great apes.

I am not a huge short story fan as the blog will show I have reviewed a few collections but my real love is novels except when in this case it is one of those writers I have loved in the past like Clerson so this collection really appealed to me as a reader and fan of books from Quebec on the whole.  So We start with the story of Louis he is a security guard that watches a show about orangutans and over time sees himself becoming like an ape over time as he starts to lose touch with the world first he loses his job then he loses his house and ends up living wild almost like an ape that is within him. Then we have tales about a writer and the next one story that grabbed me is a tale of a secret underground city hidden in Montreal in a way a sort of sly nod and joke towards and maybe at  Toronto’s Path system the series of tunnels walkways and underground passages that link that city up as a pascal discovers the city under the city is a maze of passages and secret tooms and secrets below the city. Then we have stories of woods and death there is always a sense of transition in the stories of becoming something at times of want to change. A really surreal tale of the dog with no head which in a way reminds me of the brothers a tale of a dog born with no head and its care is a bizarre tale that ranks along with the oddest stories I have ever read.

Clara’s dog was born without a head one July morning, during the hottest days of summer. The mother had whelped by the cedar hedge in one of the few shady spots in theyard, flies buzzing around ger, The bitch died as her only baby was being born. Paul the fat guy who lived nearby , had come to watch. Maybe , paul suggeted, the animals head had stayed trapped in the mother’s body in her womb. Paul’s twin sons laughed when they heard his explination. When they got back home, they drew pictures in marker of huge bellies filled with animal heads. But clara held the puppy inher hands, talking to him where his head would have been, as if she’d ben whisering into the shell of an ear.

The opening of the story the dog without a head a bizzare tale of a dog with no head and his owner.

If you loved the brother it is easy to say you will like this collection it has a dash of Kafka “dark twisted lives and sense of not know quite what is going on” and Will Self at his best years ago ” like his grey area where it had a feeling like this at times” then add a pinch of the surreal humor of comics like league of gentlemen and  noel fielding those dark corners of comedy and tragedy. there is a theme of man and animal whether becoming a beast or insect or caring for a dog with no head the connection with nature and man at times is dark here. I loved this it is a collection that will last long in the reader’s mind. Another gem from QC is a great evening read the stories are all short 12 pages being the longest stories in the collection. What is your favorite short stories? Winstons score – A+ just perfect

The woman in Valencia by Annie Perreault

The Woman in Valencia by Annie Perreault

Quebec fiction

Original title – La femme de Valence

Translator – Ann Marie Boulanger

Source – review copy

It has been a while well actually six months it seems longer since I have featured a book from Quebec over recent years they have produced some of my favourites reads so this is one of the latest from QC books from Annie Perreault a writer that left university with a degree in Russian studies and French literature here first short story collection got an honourable mention in the Adrienne-Choquette Award. This was her debut novel it was also a finalist for the prestigious Prix Ringuet and shortlist for another prize. The book looks at the aftermath of one shocking event that lasts no more than a few mins on the life of one woman and then her daughter.

Finally, the woman pulls out a pack of lucky strikes, she offers one to Claire, who waves it away. With trembling fingers, the stranger lights a cigarette, She hands her bag to claire and moves to the corner of the terrace to smoke. Claire sets the bag down at the end of her chaise longue and eyes it nervously , as though a rat might suddenly crawl out of it. She inspects a cut on her finger and checks her hand for blood

Claire doesn’t immediately grasp what’s happening, she watches her children playing in the pool,They’re laughing, clinging to their dad’s neck, splashingeach other. They’re happy

Moments later the world of these family is chnaged  for ever

Claire Halde is on a vacation with her family in Valencia. With her husband, they are in a rooftop bar having drinks.  when she is approached by a woman unkempt that seems to have self-harmed that offers her a cigarette then asks her to watch over her handbag whilst she went to the have a smoke. The next thing Claire sees is the woman walking out of the toilet and then walk off the roof to her death. This event haunts Claire as she looks at what this woman was through the contents of that bag. What we see is her reliving that event but then what happened after but also when she returned and had a passionate affair a few years after that day as we see what happens when you get caught in suicide and can’t stop the person doing it. The later part of the book follows Claire daughter a marathon runner who like her mother ends up doing a marathon in Valencia we follow her on every kilometre of the race as she relives her life her mother and all that has happened this is a story of three women a mother and daughter and a woman who leapt to her death and the effect on Laure and Claire

Things to do before you die

I remember my mother running,

I think of her often, sprinting like she was trying to escape from us, run away from us at top speed.

Since arriving in Spain three days ago, I’ve been carrying around the same soft covered notebook with the mustard yellow binding, i run my hand over its smooth surface, I’m too scared to eread it again. I’m keeping my distance

Over the years, my mother amassed countless of these slim notebooks, which she brought from a Japanese stationary store in New york city, When I turned eighteen my father gave me a pile of the, most of them are identical. all of them are dog eared

Return to the place where she started to loe her mother in many ways after that moment

This is a story of lives and what happens when you get caught up in a shocking event. Suicide is one of the hardest things to think about still years after the loss of my brother in law who took his own life on my wife myself and our family the moment changed all our lives and here we see how it affected claire the ripple effect of the separation and affair after the event is how some people deal with the event by a change of course in their lives but then there is the knock-on effect of that moment on her daughter this is a book on the human condition but also about those turning points in life what would have happened had some stop her would it be remembered by those involved,  would Claire and Jean still be married would Laurie need to run marathons ?, What connects these three women is a brief conversation and the contents of that bag and the impact of the women leaping to her death. The book is a close look at grief depression and how it can affect us all and how one event can lead to so many changes in so many lives. it is a book where the female character leap of the page.

Winstons score – B a look at one moment and the aftermath of that moment.

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 .

Prague by Maude Veilleux

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prague by Maude Veilleux

Quebecian fiction

Original title – Prague

Translators – Aleshia Jensen and Aimee Wall

Source – review copy

I said a couple of weeks ago how much of a fan I am of the books that the Canadian publisher QC is bringing us from Quebec each is as different as the last and that is the case here last time it was a single female struggling abroad and now we have a married female trying to escape her life. Maude Veilleux is doing a master in French. This is her second novel and is known for addressing social media and narrative identity in her books. Here she tackles the dilema of a modern marriage. This is her first novel to be translated to English.

I found it easy, being with two men at once. I had my husband and I had my lover. I felt no guilt. I wasn’t lying to either of them. I kept some details to myself, but I didn’t lie. My lover often said to me: there’s no way your husband isn’t jealous.

I loved it when he said that. It showed that what we were doing meant something to him. I’d say: he’s not jealous at all, it’s not in his nature.

I liked the balancing act, the work the situation required. I had to cloak the truth so that each felt indispensible.It was easy, because they wer. They were indispensable to me.

Early on as she loves the thrill of juggling to men at once.

This is a strange book as it blurs the lines between narrative and reality for the narrator is a woman that has gone into an open marriage The love is there but the desire of earlier in the marriage has ebbed away. As her husband has decided to have a fling with a man and is happy to let her have flings. This leads her to start a relationship with Sebastian who works in the same bookshop as she does they have an arrangement and he has a flatmate this is all ok as the fiction Maude explores her body with another man but as the lines start to blur this becomes a woman looking at her life in fiction as a novel of her relationship with voyeuristic sex scenes this is a strange book it is one of those that is about those questions every relationship has at some point and that is what to do when the love there but the excitement of sexual passion has died. All this is a Canadian winter as the lover dream of escaping to Prague and another life.

People read me as vunerable. I take care to look pretty. Perfectly groomed. perfectly made up. Batting my lashes with timed grace. Resting my elegant hands with poise. My fragilityis my strength. But what they don’t know is that I’m a force of s=destruction, an enchantress, The prey and the predator. Both at once, I’m the noe who does the asking. I’m the onw who sets the limit.

Later on still strong but maybe an underlying weakness and vunreability starting to appear. in our narrator

This is what I love about Quebecian fiction this is like an espresso shot of modern married life short very strong and giving you a kick. It has a sparse prose style with blasts of voyeuristic sex and a narrative that crosses from the personal to the writer’s voice as the lines of the narrator’s life blur is this autofiction or fiction as her and Sebastian dream of escaping their lives and going to Prague. As they make love. This questions what you do in a modern marriage when each person has different desires and will it work out. As I said this is an espresso of a book a shot to get you going as a reader it is such a short book it can be read in an evening.

In the end they told them all to get lost by Laurence Leduc-Primeau

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the end they told them all to get lost by Laurence Leduc-Primeau

Quebecian fiction

Original title – À la fin ils ont dit à tout le monde d’aller se rhabiller

Translator- Natalia Hero

Source – personal copy

I thought yesterdays review was the longest title of the year but this may be too. Anyway, after a few months, I return to Quebec and another from the publisher QC that has brought some of my favorite books of the last couple of years so here we have a debut novel. I  love the bio of Laurence on her French publisher which says “Laurence Leduc-Primeau was born and raised in Montreal. As often as possible, she launches first in destabilizing things she knows absolutely nothing about. Already at the age of five, she was seen doing high-flying equestrian riding and leaving on the go in Gaspésie with a rebellious guitarist met in a bar. Later, she began to write ”   a rather tongue in cheek bio but also maybe explains the style of this book which is quirky with its choppy paragraphs. 

I’ve been starring at you a week, Betty.Betty the stain. Dirty and Alone. I didn’t think I’d give you a name when I first got here. A brown stain, on a yellowed wall, in a dirty room. Dosen;t deserve a proper noun. But you’ve started movin. You almost move more than I do,YOu need a sharp eye to notice ; I watch you all daylong. You must be alive. I’ve decided to cal, you Betty. Traced you with a felt marker, outlined in Black, cast in a mold. Now you’ll stop movingYou’ll stay close to me

This opening has so many layers to it sorrow, a sort of detatched feeling and drifting and utter lonliness from Chloe.

This book has a broken style of narrative as we are told the story of Chole as she has arrived in an unnamed South American country after she tried to take her own life what we see is a vulnerable woman trying to escape what happened in her past. But  she is crippled by the inability to communicate the book opens as she is in what must be a flea-bitten room in the unnamed South American city starring at the stain she has called Betty as we see her time unfold in this new country struggling with language trying to be a young woman but also we sense that this isn’t just her nature but the suicide attempt but maybe what lead to that as she starts to gain more confidence in her. We meet her roommates see her venture out of the room get herself a  job and gain a sense of self and speaking Spanish with more confidence. She leaves behind the room and Betty the stain and slowly we see her open her wings but also as this happens there is a sense of past traumas swelling up also being remembered. this is reflected in the second quote near the end of the book still what has happened before the book is there.

THey should rent out arms, bellies, shoulders and necks to cuddle and hold the people who need it and don’t have anyone to care for  them. An affection buisness. The prostitution of tenderness would really take off.

Deep won I’m fine with thinking my pain is unique and special, that I still have my own identity that hasn’t all dissolved

later still tinged in sadness this is as she is in the bars and more social but also more reflective in her past and present !

 

This is a classic story of someone trying to run away from there past. I like Laurence choice of style the choppy paragraphs and sense of detachment as this quirky girl get to grips with the world around her it is dark and comic at the same time. She gives to Chole is great I remember the sense of being a small fish and not knowing what everyone is talking about when I live in Kleve for a couple of years in my twenties not having studied German I like Chole grappled with talking and meeting people although for me the German girl I was living with helped me so I can’t imagine what it was like for Chole especially as English wouldn’t be to come in South America this is a wonder no wonder her life is enclosed at the start given to that the mental health angle to her and what may be causing her to break down and why she is in South America this is one of those books that grows on you it isn’t the easiest at time but worth the journey. Another gem from QC a publisher that always seem to bring something exciting out for us readers.

 

Mama’s boy by David Goudreault

 

Mama’s boy by David Goudreault

Quebecian fiction

Original title –  La Bête à sa mère

Translator – JC Sutcliffe

Source – review copy

This is the second of two books from the Quebec based publisher Book*hug . This was David Goudreault debut novel he has written novel and poetry and is also a songwriter he was the first Quebecer to win the Poetry slam world cup. he has written four novels and this is his first to appear in English. He leads creative workshops in schools and detention centers all across Quebec. He has won a number prizes this won the Grand prix literaire Archambault.

My mother was always committing suicide. She started out young, in a purely amateur capacity.But it wasn’t long before mama figured out how to make the psychiatrists take notice, and tp get the respect only the most serios cases warranted. ELectroshocks, massive doses of antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics and other mood stabilizers marked the seasons as she struggled through them. While I collected hockey cards, she collected diagnoses.Thanks to the huge effort she put into her crises, my mother contributed greatly to the advancement of psychaitry. If It weren’t for the little matter of patient confidentiality, I’m sure several hospitals would be named after her.

The first paragraph opens your eyes to the relationship with his mother growing up.

This is one man’s journey to find his mother after he was placed in care and spent his teen years in a series of various foster homes have made this man the character he is today and now he is trying to find his mother. As her mental health problems sent him into care. The book opens with an indication of how bad his mother was when he says she was always trying to commit suicide. He uses various names as the book unfolds during the story and shows the good and bad sides of foster care each family he has a nickname for them usually about the way the family is with him or they act. He isn’t the most well-adjusted person a man of his upbringing and surroundings. At one point we see him kidnap his girlfriends cat in a jealous rage they had only been together a few short weeks. HIs turning out of the care system and taking drugs and getting tattoos and his first steps into becoming a man. The narrator has a dark side that we as a reader should really hate but at times, we can find him charismatic. He finds a job using lies to get near to where his mother lives to try to find that right moment to return to her life. As he waits and recounts the mother he remembered and the woman now.

I celebrated my eighteenth birthday by spending half of my first welfare cheque on a tatoo. For humans- unlike cattle- marking your body is a sign of liberty. I’d learned this during my hours online. I needed something original, something unique that really represented me. I got a tatoo of a big Chinese character on the back of my neck. Strength.That;s what the tatoo meant. It was impressive

He spends his first real money very unwisely on a tatoo but it is also a sign of  his struggling and what he needs to move forward

This is one of those books that as a reader whether you like it or hate it will hinge on how much you like the narrator of the book. I put him between Holden Caulfield and Patrick Bateman on the scale of how much you could dislike this character he has a skewed view of the world as we would see it here in the UK he is prime for being on the Jeremy Kyle show. A rollercoaster ride an insight into how being in care effects you as a person it shows how he hasn’t formed normal social interaction and the views he shows also show a lack of proper role models in his life . A powerful voice if hard to read at times once again another outstanding read from Quebec. The book could easily be transferred to here in the UK the experiences and the life he has had could be the same of man a young man in the UK that has gone through the struggling social care system.

Explosions by Mathieu Poulin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Explosions (Michael Bay and the Pyrotechnics of the imagination) by Mathieu Poulin

Quebecian fiction

Original title – Des explosions

Translator – Aleshia Jensen

Source – review copy

A quick return to one of my favorite place to read books from Quebec and one of my favorite publishers QC. Now after a thoughtful short book we have a clever comic book. Mathieu Poulin initially was a film fan (which given this book is easy to guess), but a teacher inspired him into books and writing. He has cohost a culture show in Quebec and also writes the comic piece about sport this is his debut novel.

At the age of Two, Michael Bay was adopted by Harriett Stamper, a professor of Literature at the University od California, Los Angeles (UCLA) specializing in American and French Poetry(her doctoral thesis, defended in 1964, was titled ” Transalantic Filiations: from Whitman to Ginsberg and Aragon”), and Jim Bay, a plastic surgeon in the midst of forging a reputation as a “magician” and “career-booster” among women with acting or modelling ambitions.

this gives the perfect mix of maybe what made Bay poetry philosophy and films in the beauty of films.

We are all aware of the films that Michael Bay has made. those all action films that are full of explosions and violence and a bit OTT. Well, what we have here is a book that reimagines Michael Bay as a left field man that has used his films to bring a subtle message across. He thinks everyone gathers that is what his films are about? We imagine he was into philosophy and those long films I love but my other half always says at the end what happened!! Directors that made a difference. What is shown is a man want to strive but also one that doubts he is given the appreciation he is due.So instead of bad Boys being a buddy cops film, it is a commentary on colonization hence all the badies in the film being white and Miami is a replacement for Africa. Then other films like Pearl Harbor is a thesis on what is freedom his. The rock is about understanding one’s peers. Then Armageddon is what would happen if the earth end. This rips apart Michaels life then rebuilds it as a very different version of who he is and what his movies mean. He also struggles with his being adoptive at times. But his adoptive parents are the ones that inspired his discovery of books and philosophy.

A brilliant yet restless student, michael studied and was particularly interested in the examination of identity in Shohei Imamura’s films, the influence of Noveau Roman narrative techniques in last year in marienbad , porter’s aesthetics of tableau, the poetry and temporal relationship in Tarkovsky’s stalker, the ethical dilemas raised by Serge Dubrvsky’s fiction, the post colonial discourse in Conrads Heart of Darkness, was also one of the first note the ground breaking theoretical importance of French Philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s the movement Image.

Michael was attractch to the great thinker of cinema and writers Like Conrad.

As you see this is a clever twist on the Autobiography. I know very little about Michael Bay other than his films are very OTT and sometimes more about the special effects than the story. now it is believable he could really be a man trying to be the new Goddard trying to show the woes and mistakes of the modern world through the lens of his camera. An unsung hero underrated and misunderstood! This what Mathieu has done so well this tongue in cheek book is fun. He has taken a character that has often been held up for the dumbing down of cinema plowing the same furrow when he made follow-ups to the transformer movies. It is a book that can make you laugh out loud at times it is one of those books that shows you how comic novels should be. So nect time you lick on to a Ba film just linger and think what is behind this film really !!! then turn over.

 

In every wave by Charles Quimper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In every wave by Charles Quimper

Quebecian fiction

Original title – Marée montante

Translator – Gull Lefebvre

Source – Review copy

I have a real feeling that I am lucky to have been let in the Library of books from Quebec it is like a small room in Borges Dream Library one that we who know about the great books from Quebec have the secret knowledge and so to the latest. This is an amazingly short novella from the writer Charles Quimper he has previously been a bookseller and written to a number of magazines. I read an interview where it said he had tried out working on a trawler only to find he has seasickness. He is married and has two children.

A BIRD GLIDES OVERHEAD. Could be a cormorant, maybe an albatross. Might be just a seagull.I have no idea.

It’s there first thing in the morning and follows me all day, circling above, tracking me accross the seven seas.

Cracked skin, calloused hands. My body sculpted by the sea

The steady rhythm of the gallery inside me. Turmoil and rain filled sorrow. A hint of something sweet, clear and amber. A mournful melody. I think of you every day, seeking your shadow in the boat’s wake, finding nothing but the sea

The recurrent them of the water her again in this poetic passage early on in the book.

In Every wave is narrated by the father of Beatrice. She had drowned one summer whilst swimming. Now the water is a recurring theme in the book. The narrative has a broken nature as we drift through the past and the present. From memories of camping playing Marco Polo , the actual day of Beatrice drowning rerunning what happened maybe to see if it could have been different then the aftermath his with underwater in the bath motionless her way of dealing with there loss. The distance between the husband and wife after the event is like a tide slowly drawing in and cutting them off to there island. He has a boat maybe he is trying to sail back to her or even to his wife but he just sees a bird in the distance every day.

That day

I swear , I tried. I tried everything. Our fingertips brushed together. I grabbed you by the forearm, but the current was too strong, and you were being pulled down too fast. I swear by your name engraved on my skin. On the head of my dead bird.

I can’t even swim, but there I was, swallowing water by the bucketful, spitting, coughing, desperate to get back to shore,howling your name. Cramped,gasping, and spent.Spittiomg up saliva and snot and despair. Someone pulled me out. Without you.

That day he replays again near the end trying to grasp at the water for his Beatrice.

This is such a short book 78 pages Long. It is strange I am just reading Knausgaard’s the End well that book was started with the death of his father. Well, it turns out the kernel for this book was Charles own fathers death he was young when it happened. Knausgaard books are a forest or words this short novella is a single autumnal leaf one of those leaves that had just the bare skeleton of the leaf this is the bare bones of coping with a death whether it is a father or a Child. This uses the sea and water so well as a recurrent theme from the boat, the drowning, the wife in the bath and the sea water forming salt on the skin a lasting impression of what the sea is like the tears we cry at times like this salty. I was so touched after reading this I tweeted this was one of the most touching books I have ever read it is a real gem a short book that lingers long in the memory of the reader. You will feel the unnamed fathers sorrow and guilt. I for one now both feelings so well in recent times especially the replaying the last days of what happened as the Counting crows one said in a song.” If dreams are like movies, then memories are films about ghosts, You can never escape, you can only move south down the coast”. Another gem from the library of Quebec. Please go preorder this gem I review it earlier than normal as I felt it was that good!!!!

 

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.

Life in the court of Matane by Eric Dupont

QCFINF16 - CoverLivreMatane_RVB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life in the court of Matane by Eric Dupont

Canadian Quebec Fiction

Original title –Bestiaire

Translator – Peter McCambridge

Source – Review copy

I have found that many of my favourite books have come from the Quebec based publisher QC that are translating the best of that regions literature. Peter said to me in a tweet this was the book that made him want to become a translator and thus start QC books. Eric Dupont is considered one of the leading lights in the New Quebec lit movement. He has been called an essential to read of this movement of writers. His books have been longlist for a number of prizes.

July 1976. Monteral. The 21sr Olympic games. A tiny Romanian gymnast stands on a mat and waves to the crowd. For thirty seconds, she swings back and forth between twp wooden bars, defying the laws of gravity.Her landing is perfect.She even manages a smile, and gambols away from the blue mat as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened, With the whole world looking on, she gets a perfect score. Ten . Nadia comaneci, the child who had been getting by on a egg a day, had just revealed to Quebec’s metropolis the possiablties in weightlessness, Of this impressive demonstration of grace, courage, and agility, history would remember her smile most of all.

And behind the smile is like Erics a sad life hidden behind beauty.

I am so pleased Peter sent me this book. I was like Eric the narrator of this book a child of a family that split up.This is now fairly come. But in the early eighties wasn’t so. When my parents split up it wasn’t so much so as the narrator of this book shows it is hard on us kids of broken families. This book had so many echoes with my own life. I wasn’t like Eric enthralled by the Nadia Comaneci Gold medal performance. For me, a similar memory would be the first space shuttle launch in 1981 the first holiday with my dad after their divorce. Which is similar to Eric’s he is a couple of years older than me. The story unfolds chapter by chapter using an animal the young narrator meets along the way.This echoes the French title which is Bestiary.  Which is, of course, an ancient medieval way of using animals to tell moral tales to the readers. We have also seen in modern times writer like Borges use the form as well. It also shows the choice of the beasts. As a growing strength in the narrator Eric as he faces his life. As he says every birthday we had a new address and place as he tries to live up to his police father, schoolyard bullying a dream life in Russia. Also the sheer fact of growing up in the ever-changing and fast-moving world of the late seventies and early eighties.

A few hours after sputinik 2’s launch, the soviets announced what they had knwon from the beginning. Lakia wouldn’t be coming back to earth. Sputnik 2 wasn’t deisgined for return flight. All the scientists knew this. even Oleg Gazenko. The dog was to die , poisoned  after ten days  Years later, scientists mo longer moving within Russia’s orbit revealed the horryfinh deatails: Laika had probably survived nom more than a few hours abard sputnik2 .

As I said the shuttle launch in1981 is a memory from my life like this was to many at the time.

It’s fair to say, I connected with this book as it has so many comparisons with my own life. Isn’t this what the best of writers try to do at times,  they draw us into their world.We as readers draw our own experiences and this book did that in spades. We all grow up and this is what makes  Bildungsroman is a classic form of novel and one that we have all rea But this book uses a number of clever framing devices the animals and the feeling of each animal giving him a little hope. Then using  Nadia performance as a metaphor for the gymnastic all us kids of split families.Would have to be. Like the best of this fiction.As it takes the tough side of childhood. Books like Black swan green  or even Kestrel for a knave another book that echo the human and animal themes as we saw how one animal lifted Billy Caspers life her we see how a flurry of animals ending with the wisest of them A great horned Owl, Owls have long symbolized knowledge but also a letting go of the knowledge of the past such as the quote of Hegel

 

Philosophy, as the thought of the world, does not appear until reality has completed its formative process, and made itself ready. History thus corroborates the teaching of the conception that only in the maturity of reality does the ideal appear as counterpart to the real, apprehends the real world in its substance, and shapes it into an intellectual kingdom. When philosophy paints its grey in grey, one form of life has become old, and by means of grey it cannot be rejuvenated, but only known. The owl of Minerva takes its flight only when the shades of night are gathering.

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