To the north, shoulders leaning over the rim of the horizon, mountains crane their broad necks to peer into the depths. Slowly, wind and time relieve them of their own weight: they fill out like geese, then lift their necks and take off into a sea of stars. Other mountains, closer to me, come brand new out of the ground, take the same path, and prepare for their mass migration through the black waters of the night.
A mother bear has her life spared by a hunter and celebrates by flinging salmon at her young. Far-off storms rumble in the distance. Clouds become heavy as mountains. It rains for days and nights at a time. An igloo is a “den of ivory where time has fallen asleep,” time itself “nothing more than a glacial night, death as far as the eye can see.”
Le chant de la terre innue is a book of images. A novel on time and space and nature. A novel of time and space and nature. Beautiful descriptions follow each other seamlessly, never feeling gaudy or overdone.
La petite et le vieux reminded me of home. True, I didn’t grow up in working-class Québec in the 1980s or fancy converting to the opposite sex. I didn’t even have a paper route when I was young. And sure, Hélène, alias “Joe,” had an alcoholic father and a potty mouth, made friends with the local drunk, and was working for pocket change in a bingo hall by the time she was eleven years old. But she was also scared of the dark. And scared of her big sister. And scared of disappointing her father. She could have been any of us at eleven.