Maxime Raymond Bock, Coach House Books, 2016
Des lames de pierre, Cheval d'août, 2015
A Tristram Shandy–esque novella about failing memory and failed writing.
Yes, you’ll read Baloney quickly. But you’re highly unlikely to read it only once.
A fascinating character study of the utterly unremarkable but prolific fictional poet Raymond “Baloney” Lacerte.
Although a distinctly Québécois flavour permeates the tale… Baloney is a novel charged with the type of broad, comic, and deeply human appeal that knows no borders
It wasn’t friendship that took me to see Robert. My attraction was nothing more than selﬁsh, morbid curiosity. It came as a huge surprise to me. I don’t make friends with many people, and I am not drawn to eccentrics. I wanted to make him talk. The second time we met, and the ﬁrst time we drank together, after leaving the Poetry Van and the poets in the park, gave me a sense that I was in the presence of a living treasure, a man whose experience and advice would guide me, a writing mentor who would restore the touch I’d lost when my children were born, and again at the onset of my anxiety when my book was published. He’d help me rediscover the abandon of writing for its own sake. When he let me read his archives, what I found there was the thing itself, writing, a stubborn impulse that survived under any circumstance, because it had to. The texts themselves were meagre pickings, barely salvageable ﬁrst drafts. Just plain bad, really: even as a fellow failed poet, I couldn’t ﬁnd another way to slice it. Robert wouldn’t be my writing godfather. He spun a good yarn, had a gift for making things up, or maybe a tendency to stray from the truth – you could tell by the sparkle in the corner of his squinty eye as he let out a big puff of smoke. I’d found a clown, a character, a subject to objectify.
After we’d hung out several times, I realized he’d become much more than that. One night he coughed so hard he threw up a mixture of beer, bile and blood. After I helped him get up and walk to the living room, he thanked me. There was no pride, just gratitude, and he opened up a bit. He had cancer. Without me and the joints I rolled for him (enough to recover the technique I’d long forgotten), he told me he would never make it through the surges of pain. He’d always hidden his true self behind a character; now it was being revealed to me. He cut the shit after that, just a little. I couldn’t quite laugh with him in the same way. Nor could I pity him. This was bigger than me now. I was his friend.
To increase the capacity of his archive, Robert acquired bunkbeds. The top bunk was piled to the ceiling with masses of newspapers and booklets; to accommodate even more, he had sawed the wooden posts, reducing the height between the bottom mattress and the top bunk to a narrow crevice he could wiggle into. He’d stopped turning on the heat years ago – the mountains of paper in front of the baseboards were a ﬁre hazard. Because he was on the second ﬂoor of a three-storey building, Robert claimed, the downstairs neighbours heated his apartment. The truth was that, even under four blankets, he started freezing his ass off every year in late October. The window frame was wood and must have been from the forties; ﬂowers of mould grew happily in its warped frame, and the pane was covered over with a multicoloured frost that gained a half-inch in thickness as winter wore on. He often slept on the couch, where it was warmer. During the last winter he spent at home, I tried to help him keep the drafts out by sticking plastic ﬁlm over the window. It wasn’t easy to do without knocking over the piles of papers rising up to the middle of the window. The plastic clung tight, like a reefed sail ﬁlled by the draft slipping in from the street; youcould see it breathe when the door opened and shut. Then the bottom came unstuck and it swayed in the cold air, like a sheet drying on a clothesline.
- Fauna, Christiane Vadnais, 2020
- Camp Spirit, Axelle Lenoir, 2020
- The Country Will Bring Us No Peace, Matthieu Simard, 2019
- The Dishwasher, Stéphane Larue, 2019
- Of Vengeance, J.D. Kurtness, 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
- Atavisms, Maxime Raymond Bock, 2015
- Foule, Atwood Photographie / Théâtre La Bordéé, 2021
- Le Collectoir, Ève Cadieux, 2021