Larry Tremblay is a writer, director, and actor, has published more than twenty books as a playwright, poet, novelist, and essayist, and he is one of Quebec’s most-produced and translated playwrights. Being Talon’s resident master of the eerie and the unsettling, it seems fitting to highlight his especially freaky fiction in the month of All Hallows. (And this trifecta of books is on sale until the end of the month!)
Larry Tremblay’s most recent work of fiction is The Obese Christ (translated by Sheila Fischman, $14.95). In it, the asocial, sexually repressed Edgar, kneeling in grief at his mother’s graveside, turns abruptly to witness a terrifying and life-altering event: the brutal rape of a young woman. Compelled by muddled instinct (and ingrained religious conviction), our hero bears the unconscious victim home, solemnly pledging to care for her – and to act as her saviour. As winter closes in, the captor’s neuroses are revealed and his behaviour becomes increasingly violent, allowing the victim only one escape.
With The Obese Christ, Larry Tremblay squarely situates himself within the realm of Hitchcock, Polanski, and Stephen King. A brilliant exercise in unease and paranoia, The Obese Christ demonstrates Tremblay’s powerful ability to evoke dead and fear, while immersing the reader in a wrapped and putrid world told from Edgar’s sanctified point of view.
Read excerpts from Obese Christ here.
Piercing (translated by Linda Gaboriau, $17.95) is a set of three novellas, each of which surprises and, dare we say, shocks.
In “The Axe” a dejected literature professor arrives at the door of one of his students in the middle of the night, carrying with him an assignment the cheeky student has turned in: a carefully wrapped hatchet.
In “Piercing” a teenage runaway, Marie-Hélène, seeks to escape the mediocrity of her small-town family life, only to end up in a very different kind of urban “family,” a cult of dominance and body piercing presided over by Kevin, the maimed and orphaned son of a millionaire.
In “Anna on the Letter C” a lonely, virginal typist transcribing the “c” words for a dictionary project lives just blocks away from the church where Rasputin-like Kevin holds court. Taking pity on a middle-aged stalker (a seedy, sweating chain-smoker, retired from his job as a projectionist in soft-core porn cinemas), she invites him to her apartment for tea.
Last but not least is The Bicycle Eater (translated by Sheila Fischman, $19.95). Ten years ago, photographer Christophe Langelier failed the test of eating a bicycle for Anna, the object of his adolescent desire, as proof of his love and devotion. Since then, he has become singularly obsessed with his all-consuming passion for her, yet desperate to escape his unrequited love. In The Bicycle Eater, Christophe flees to the Island of Women off the coast of Mexico where he sacrifices his former self and begins his transformation from a man possessed to a man confused.
The Montreal Review of Books reviewed The Bicycle Eater, observing that
Things and people are never quite what they seem in this gender-bending ride through the topsy-turvy tunnels of 27-year-old photographer Christophe Langelier’s obsession with Anna … This is also a good book for anyone who appreciates the surreal. There is something poetic about the way the narrative slips back and forth as easily as a dream, transcending the limits of linear thinking. Some of the monologues delivered by Tremblay’s quirky cast of characters have words flooding the page in a sparkling stream of consciousness, gushing with metaphysical musings. And what gorgeous images are rendered.
Is Larry Tremblay the Chuck Pahlaniuk of the Talon list? Is he the M. Night Shyamalan of French-Canadian literature? That is for you, dear reader, to decide.
Have a happy Halloween! And don’t miss the Larry Tremblay Fiction Special: three books for $29.95! This bundle includes The Bicycle Eater, Piercing, and The Obese Christ and runs until the end of October.