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Wednesday August 17, 2011 in Books
Sixteen-year-old Miles has run away from home, inviting his childhood companion, the fourteen-year-old Inuit orphan Chateaugué, to join him in a rented flat opposite Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours in Montreal. There they construct a chaste life for themselves, living as brother and sister. They spend their days riding bicycles wildly through the streets of the city, dodging the automobiles that symbolize for them the adult world they despise, a world that has dominated the landscape with its roadmaps of social discourse. They spend hours at the library, laughing with disdain at how the classics have become venerated, how their authors’ words and turns of phrase have become confused with the things and actions they signify. Enthralled by the works of the “mad” poet Nelligan, Miles begins a journal, determined to free language from the constraints of convention, but finds he cannot write anything without immediately conjuring up its opposite.
To escape the boredom that history seems to have decreed shall be re-enacted endlessly by all grown-ups, Miles and Chateaugué enter into a suicide pact to preserve their childhood freedom and purity from the debasement of the adult roles pre-ordained for them.
Destitute after spending what little money they have, Miles goes to a bar in search of a drink, where he is seduced by an older woman, and suddenly finds himself both attracted and repelled by the pleasures and debasements of the flesh. Having stepped out of their world of childhood innocence, can he return to Chateaugué and consummate their vows, or is this brush with experience irrevocable?
Written in a style that echoes the work of Arthur Rimbaud and William S. Burroughs, Ducharme’s vision is darkly prophetic of a world that has lost its innocence, and on which “our lady of good help” now only gazes with an inscrutable Mona Lisa smile.
ISBN 13: 9780889226692 | ISBN 10: 889226695
5.5 W x 8.5 H inches | 272 pages
$16.95 CAN / $16.95 US
Backlist | Fiction | Bisac: FIC019000
QUOTES OF NOTE
“Forty-four years after Le nez qui voque won the Governor General’s Award for French fiction, Browning’s is the first English translation, and it is easy to see why: tackling Ducharme’s writing is a Herculean undertaking. Yet Browning aims to translate all nine of Ducharme’s novels, "thereby expanding access to his wonderful, quirky, inventive prose." He is rendering Canadian literature a unique service by opening Ducharme’s work to Anglophone readers.”
About the ContributorsRéjean Ducharme
Novelist and playwright Réjean Ducharme was born in Saint-Félix-de-Valois, in the region of Joliette, Quebec in 1941. Réjean Ducharme is considered one of the most significant and original voices in Quebec literary history. He has also exhibited his sculptures and paintings created with found objects, under the pseudonym Roch Plante. He is not only one of Quebec ‘s most influential playwrights, but also one of the province’s enigmas: the man has not been seen in public for over a decade and there are few photographs of him.Will Browning
Will Browning holds a Docorate of Modern Langauges in French and Spanish from Middlebury College, and an MA in Spanish from the Université de Paris. He is currently Professor at Boise State University. Browning publishes French-language reviews and articles, in addition to his translation work.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.