Listening for Jupiter by Pierre-Luc Landry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for Jupiter by Pierre-Luc Landry

Quebec fiction

Original title – Les corps extraterrestres

Translators – Arielle Aaronson and Madeleine Stratford

Source – review copy

The small Quebec based press QC fiction are translating some wonderful Lit from the french speaking part of Canada. The first book I reviewed Brothers by David Clerson was one of my favourite books from last year so when then latest book looking for Jupiter arrived I was excited .Pierre-Luc landry is a professor of French studies and found the journal La Chachoir de flaubert a spittoon of ideas ! and won the Ottawa book prize for french fiction with this novel .

I sat down in front of the TV to watch a documentary on Jupiter’s red spot , a massive  anti cyclone that was first seen almost two hundreds years ago and still looks the same today. The scientists who were interviewed compared it to a never-ending hurricane with winds raging at over 550 kilometers per hour. The more they study the phenomenon , they said the less they understand it

Man is this just the best summary of the book , a twirling circle , jupiter a recurring Motif and also a TV show.

This is a tale that takes place in the real and dream world and with two characters Xavier a rep working for a pharmaceutical company , sell a drug that he isn’t very sure works . But in his dreams he lives in a different world he joins and connects with Hollywood a man living what seems a dead-end life as a grave-digger  ( a job Dave Vanian of the damned had and also Joe Strummer ) , Hollywood is a student in fact in many ways embodies the classic Slacker role and in a way Xavier is maybe the classic Yuppie but as the novel unfold we see that The Slacker life of Hollywood as Xavier falls ill and lose his position  and starts on a path to becoming each other and live in a world where their lives are numbed by Music TV shows and films.As the weather has freaky nature during the book.

After the sandman

They remain standing for some time before the hole in the window, watching the meteor shower. They say nothing. They both believe that, at this rate, the sky will eventually burn out. Then hollywood shouts:

“It’s cold in here”

“But it isn’t snowing.It’s stopped ”

I loved these short passages this one is so Borges like I felt !

This is a classic piece of what I would call Gen x lit mixed with a work of magic realism .I was reminded so much the films I grew up with where the slacker characters  turned into the anti hero Ethan Hawke in reality bites was similar to  Hollywood. In the way he is like with his friends a the way Hawkes character was über cool  like and  on the other hand Xavier is rather  like Ben stiller characters an up and coming yuppie but unlike stiller Xavier has a soul , but also with a tinge of the Campbell Scott’s character in the film singles who ends up as a slacker when he seems his dream and office career fall apart. Then there is the master of Gen x fiction the man who started the genre Douglas Coupand this is a tale pf young people caught up in their own worlds as they collide. This is a trip into a world that may not be real as it is warm in the cold part of Canada and snowing in Europe you feel as thou the two characters need to meet to change the world back and make it run as normal. There is also a chink Of Borges for me the character circling a labyrinth of the dreams and the reflective nature of the two worlds they live in are all motifs that Borges used in his stories .

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Brothers by David Clerson

QCFINF16 - CoverBrothers_v9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brothers by David Clerson

Canadian (Quebec ) fiction

Original title – Freres

Translator – Katia Grubisic

Source – review copy

When I got an email from the small Canadian based press QC fiction , I was happy having seen a couple of reviews of their books they were a publisher I wanted to try to also the news that my great Aussie mate Tony was having his first translation published by them. David Clerson won a prize for his first novel this book and was praised for his mythical prose as a genuine literary revelation.His second book crawling (english title, original title  en rampant ) came out late last year which is great news as you see this is one of those books i just want to shout about.

She had told him that his brother had been shaped from the severed limb, and born with two stumpy arms , imperfect but attached to a body that was intact, the body of his brother, with whom he loved to run along the shore and in the hills, and who like him had deep, dark eyes, the same eyes they both shared, the same look of brother

That same day and the days that followed, his mother told him, she had repeated time-worn gestures, rituals from the dawn of the world, taking care of her little boys, tending to the wound of the older brother and watching the other one grow, and she soon brought them to her breast, like twins born of the same flesh

The Older brother told the story of his younger brother or his arms.

Brothers is a story of two brothers the older has an arm missing the younger was formed by his mother from that missing arm of the older brother by the mother so the older brother would always have someone to be with and to look after. They live on a slat marsh a sort of place that has an area of mystery. They decide to set out on a quest to find the father along the way they meet kids from the next village that make a living collecting leeches ,hence they are called the leeches boys by the brothers on their hunt for the dog of a father ! Then they find a puppet whom becomes a member of the family and they also along the way adopt so pig kids to take home to their half mad mother who makes a living growing goats and looking after the small garden in the end the boys take a boat to get to the place beyond the water.

The sailboat was small and light, made of wood, and it glided on the ocean, attended by graceful seagulls and a few cormorants. This craft was much easier to handle than the brothers rowboat.This time, the older brother headed straight out to the open sea, pushed by fair , warm summer winds.

He had secured Puppets head to the bow o, leaving his figurehead clad in the grey pelt. Often the wind would fill the pelt moving the body and limbs. It seemed to dance at the bow, and it made the older brother smile, a fleeting happiness

In the myth Odysseus is given his Pelt (cloth ) by a goddess ! here is an old pelt and a puppet

This is one of those books that needs to be read to be absorbed. I don’t know a lot about Quebecian culture but I was remind that a surreal in parts this is it is also a way of looking at a world as mythical, like the Canadian filmmaker  Guy Maddin  does in his films I was remind of the sight of the frozen horse he describes in My winnepeg  and we see in the film something that happens but seems surreal and looks surreal , this is the world Clerson has conjured here . The same Mythical feel can be said here of marshlands by their sheer nature breed a surreal nature even Dickens in great expectations has this feel as the young pip describes the marshlands when he finds Magwitch on the marsh.or the woman in Black another marsh land set adventure the sheer barren and changeable nature of the environment makes it a place of fantasy add to this a tale of a brother and the arm brother , Is the younger brother real or maybe like the character in fight club that Edward Norton character creates to forfuil his life .Then we have a nod to classic greek literature this has nod the odyssey not least in the fact that when he returned home it was Argos his dog that knew who he was when he was dressed as the beggar maybe the father is Argos ? or maybe their father is a myth ? A short novella that leads you thinking afterwards and one that I’m sure all my fellow translation fans will seek out.A new voice and the first novel from Quebec on the blog .

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