An original and unsettling portrait of Quebec, from the hinterland to the metropolis.
Crackles with the energy of a Québécois folk song, impassioned and celebratory but also melancholy and cheekily ironic.
Like a fragmented block of glass, each story in Atavisms offers a view of the Québécois experience through a different prism until the final tale pulls all the threads together…
No weaknesses – only the strengths of a superb, fearless talent.
You could pace back and forth a hundred years without coming close to the boredom I felt on those prairies, once sifted by antediluvian oceans, sculpted by retreating glaciers, surveyed by rambling nomads – friendly spirits, even better warriors – plowed to-and-fro by combines kicking up the dust of buffalo skeletons. You could say I caught you off guard when I left you alone to follow your path; you could say it was a nice trip, the time of your life. Lies. We’re both free now. You can study law, become a pastry chef, take up curling, or stay out there and keep up the good work; I’ll stay here and the snow will keep coming down.
Winter has killed what little humanity the penitents had left within them. Jeannot kicked his lute to bits and threw the splintered remnants into the hearth. Quarrels break out over roots, wild rat carcasses, scraps of perishables preserved by the Cold. The poor survivors wear their found objects on their persons: metal rods, trinkets, instruments scavenged from the Marie. The bravest trade their treasures with the locals against bits of frozen fish. Some use them as weapons when brawls break out. Others, who still care for such things, buy women’s favors. The only thing capable of uniting the settlers in common purpose was the last half-cask of cider. They tore off the slats and hacked the block into ice chunks, which everyone sucked on in silence, alone in their corners, all wearing the same look, like fiends at Lilith’s teat. A group of idlers left us to try their luck in the woods, but just one made it back alive, only to expire in a haze of Visions that very night. We put his body with the others behind the wall. There are some forty corpses there already. Whatever shall we do? Hunger and Evil unseat the rational mind. Many are they who come to me with stories of Ghosts and fantastical animals crawling out of the shadows. There is little left for me to do. I know my flock well and try to keep my head, despite the depths to which we have fallen. This morning I didn’t even recognize one of my men walking around scantily clad, a copper piece of jewelry in his hand; I must have had a spell of weakness because he vanished before my very eyes. And just now, in the woods, a fight broke out. A sailor lost his hand, chopped off with an axe. What Brave New World we have chanced upon I cannot say. The blood spurted from his wrist and froze solid the instant it hit the packed snow. I pray every day with the ones who have kept Faith. Many look forward to the heat awaiting them in hell. I’m afraid they’re deluding themselves. There are no flames in hell, just ice. Till a miracle save us or a final plague finish us, we pray that God pardon us out of His grace.
Nothing is new at our house. It’s a museum of brown, the most unassuming of colors. That’s the price you pay for free stuff. On July 1st when the leases come due and everyone moves we celebrate – not the irony of what feels like an entire province moving on Canada Day, but the fact that so many shards of the past get left behind in the streets and alleyways. We take what we want with a clean conscience. Harvest lasts a week; high season. Junk on the street at any other time of year means something’s gone wrong in someone’s life – a breakup, a lost job, a move back to the parents’ basement – you learn to smell the end approaching. Like many mammals, garbage hibernates, so winter finds are rare. This winter, though, we got something. At the end of the street, next to the dirty white brick building, was a complete apartment’s worth of stuff lying in the snow – gutted cardboard boxes spilling out utensils, dime-store romance novels, drapes and floral curtains still clinging to their rods. An entire apartment spat out, and a sidewalk snowplow pushing it into a manageable pile to be picked up by the city or torn to pieces by a snowblower.
- Aquariums, J.D. Kurtness, 2022
- The Second Substance, Anne Lardeux, 2022
- Fauna, Christiane Vadnais, 2020
- Camp Spirit, Axelle Lenoir, 2020
- The Country Will Bring Us No Peace, Matthieu Simard, 2019
- Of Vengeance, J.D. Kurtness, 2019
- The Dishwasher, Stéphane Larue, 2019
- Benediction, Olivier Dufault, 2019
- What If We Were, Axelle Lenoir, 2020
- Synapses, Simon Brousseau, 2019
- The Supreme Orchestra, David Turgeon, 2018
- The Longest Year, Daniel Grenier, 2017
- Baloney, Maxime Raymond Bock, 2016
- Foule, Atwood Photographie / Théâtre La Bordéé, 2021
- Le Collectoir, Ève Cadieux, 2021