A Matter of Gravity Front Cover

Paperback / softback
ISBN: 9780889228405
Pages: 256
Pub. Date: April 15 2014
Dimensions: 8.5" x 5" x 0.625"
Rights: Available: WORLD
Fiction / FIC019000

  • FICTION / Literary

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A Matter of Gravity

By Hélène Vachon
Translated by Phyllis Aronoff & Howard Scott

A Matter of Gravity is about the forces that draw two men together. Hermann, an embalmer and doctor’s son, devotes himself to the dead to mask his disappointment that, unlike his father, he cannot cure the ­living. Hu is an ailing pianist who dwells in memories of past glory. Hermann displaces his drive for perfection and order onto his elderly neighbours. Hu, ashamed of his lame, knobbed hands, rarely leaves his airless room. Hermann contends he is eternally separated from the world by a “permanent cushion of air” that keeps him wavering between two women and hovering above humanity. Hu is bound to a nightmarish reality, shuffling between emphysema, rheumatoid arthritis, and Parkinson’s disease.

When a mysterious manuscript, possibly written by one of Hermann’s centenarian neighbours, connects one man’s routine with the other’s, an extended afternoon at the park eventually leads back to Hu’s piano. This marks the beginning of the men’s tenuous relationship, which, while healing in nature, is made more fragile by the pianist’s heightened ­mortality.

A Matter of Gravity is a sensitive, delicate, and humorous novel that unfolds in liminal spaces: between life and death, youth and age, earth and sky. By the end of the final, transformative meeting between Hermann and Hu, Vachon gently broaches the question that paralyzes each man and the people whom they love: When faced with terminal ­illness, how do we embrace the unsatisfactory life we leave behind?

“Full of insightful comments about existence and life and death and purpose and disappointment. … It’s almost like magic realism, but there’s nothing magic about it. Everything that happens could be real and true … And yet, there is a magicality in the story, a roughness around the edges of every new scene”
Words on Pages

“A gem of a novel that is both grave and cheerful. We sense Boris Vian’s influence in the rollicking way the author deals with disease and tragedy, but the text carves its own path through constant innovation. [A Matter of Gravity] may well lead us to death’s door, but its main impact is to stir the blood in our veins.”

“You take leave of this book with renewed joy in your heart.”
– Jean Fugère

“A beautiful, surprising novel that speaks with tenderness and dark humour.”
La Semaine

“A meditation on disease, death, and old age … [A Matter of Gravity] tackles these difficult issues with surprising grace.”
La Presse