The title is a pun. “Pots cassés” means “pieces” or “consequences” (as in “picking up the pieces” or “suffering the consequences”) but in this charming, inventive little novel its homonym is taken literally: Richard works at a clinic repairing “broken skin.” We’re in an allegory. And more often than not Dallaire’s metaphors are taken literally, taking on a physical presence in this world of his imagination.
“I was sixteen years old, and the world was in revolution. In Vietnam, the Americans were sacrificing an entire generation of young men to a war that was lost before it started. In France, the month of May would go down in history. In Quebec, Catholicism was losing its grip and new idols—drugs, separatism, and Charlebois songs —were taking its place in people’s hearts.”
Every minute spent in this anti-hero’s company is a delight. There are dizzyingly great drunken scenes, there’s cocaine, orgies (“The pool filter had better be in top shape—it’s going to have its work cut out”), spiked drinks, illegal border crossings, unfastened seatbelts, bad sex, a suicide, and more bad sex (“At least he came. My pride is intact.”). And yet as readers we demand more. More! we shout as we bounce from excess to excess.