Review

You Are Happy

You Are Happy

“Déraspe’s writing—in Leanna Brodie’s always on-key translation—is sweet and inquisitive at once.”

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Hungary-Hollywood Express

Hungary-Hollywood Express

Hungary-Hollywood Express reads very much as though it was written in English. The French never falls flat, and neither does the translation.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Des Explosions

Des Explosions

What if Michael Bay were, against all odds, a misunderstood cinematic genius right up there with the likes of Plato, Sartre, Kant, Derrida, et al.?

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Aleshia Jensen
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The Party Wall

The Party Wall

Leroux’s book is an ambitious exploration of our “plural, incalculable world.” This translation mostly does it justice.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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La Chambre verte

La Chambre verte

“In the name of the Dollar, and of the Cent, and of the Holy Economy.” Amen. Martine Desjardin’s La Chambre verte is a delightfully dark and unsettling account of a jealously guarded fortune.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Héliotrope Noir

Héliotrope Noir

David Warriner reviews two of the first three titles to appear in the Héliotrope Noir imprint, Du sang sur ses lèvres and Excellence Poulet.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by David Warriner
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Les maisons

Les maisons

Reading this novel is much like listening to good blues. Tessa’s malaise is real and rooted in the everyday; the themes are serious―loss, infidelity, self-esteem, family, nonconformity. But the aesthetics of the work make for a lightness, and the overall effect is uplifting.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Elaine Kennedy
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Yukonstyle

Yukonstyle

The author thanks translator Nadine Desrochers—“my ally, my friend, who knows better than anyone how to make my words travel from one language to another”—and little wonder. Desrochers’ work is enviable and masterful as she translates “the texture of images that often, still, leave me breathless with awe.”

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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La femme qui fuit

La femme qui fuit

This exquisite novel is a tribute to beauty, to creation, to life itself. Vulnerable and magnificent and heartfelt, all at once. *Winner of the 2016 Prix des libraires award from the booksellers of Quebec*

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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The Goddess of Fireflies

The Goddess of Fireflies

The pages fly by as we watch Catherine’s fate unfold in simple scenes that manage to convey years of teenage awkwardness and dreams in just a few lines.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Le chasseur inconnu

Le chasseur inconnu

Le chasseur inconnu is literally a timeless tale, with temporal references as few and far between as outsiders in the village.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by David Warriner
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Petit chien pas de pattes

Petit chien pas de pattes

“You know what you should do, Pancho? I’ll tell you my story and you turn it into a book. It’ll be an international best seller!”

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review and translation by Karin Montin
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A Beckoning War

A Beckoning War

Machine guns snarl to life as Jim leads his men, his “angels in khaki,” into “the livid, roaring inferno of combat” in northern Italy during the second world war. Murphy’s original, inventive prose lives long in the memory.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Nord Alice

Nord Alice

In Nord Alice, the narrator is obsessed with Alice, a doctor like himself and the lover whose anguish and anxiety he can never manage to calm.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Kathryn Gabinet-Kroo
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Les corps extraterrestres

Les corps extraterrestres

It has the feel of a road trip, or at least of a journey of discovery, of self-exploration, of star-gazing and navel-gazing. This novel belongs firmly in the camp of “international” literature to come out of Quebec.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Life in the Court of Matane

Life in the Court of Matane

Throughout, Dupont is aware of the transformational power of literature and his own brand of writing is more powerful than most. We do not leave this world of his making unscathed.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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A Close Call for Christmas

A Close Call for Christmas

This witty and beautifully illustrated children’s story is guaranteed to brighten your Holiday season.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Arvida

Arvida

These are stories of stories: what they do, what life becomes through them, and why they should be passed on.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by P.T. Smith
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Le vol de la coupe Stanley

Le vol de la coupe Stanley

Michel Laprise makes history come alive, lifting statistics and players from the 1961-1962 National Hockey League season off the page and bringing them to life, blending fact and fiction to describe the theft of Lord Stanley’s Cup.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review and translation by Peter McCambridge
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Paths of Desire

Paths of Desire

Paths of Desire is an intriguing title for a novel. “You see them in parks sometimes. They’re the rough trails made by people who leave the marked footpaths and cut across a grassy area or field. Some say these paths are the result of bad urban planning, but I wonder if it isn’t simply an expression of non-conformity, a desire for freedom.”

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by David Warriner
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The Lake

The Lake

This is writing of the highest order, published in France by Gallimard no less and now in English translation for House of Anansi’s Arachnide imprint. It was even up for this year’s Governor General’s Award for translation, ultimately edged out by Twenty-One Cardinals.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Six degrés de liberté

Six degrés de liberté

Quirky details and curiosities abound in this Governor General’s Award-winning novel on the most unpromising of subjects: the world of shipping containers. Packed full of delicious facts and asides, it rewards close reading and, most importantly, entertains from start to finish.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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The Orange Grove

The Orange Grove

Quebec literature can often be labelled inward-looking. But Larry Tremblay’s The Orange Grove, set in an unnamed country torn apart by violence, is a piece of truly international literature.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Arielle Aaronson
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La fée des balcons

La fée des balcons

La fée des balcons is a pre-coming-of-age story buoyed by its indomitable narrator and beautiful, tender writing.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Arielle Aaronson
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Captive

Captive

Away from alcohol, work, friends, family, television, and everything else that tends to stand between us and life, Julian and Emma are subjected to a series of increasingly cruel and unusual tests. Why them? What is this? Some kind of twisted reality TV show?

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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L’année la plus longue

L’année la plus longue

L’année la plus longue—Daniel Grenier’s first novel following an initial collection of short stories, also published by Le Quartanier—is impressive both in scope and ambition. It is the “story of a man who couldn’t grow old,” a saga of epic proportions.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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La Fiancée américaine

La Fiancée américaine

La Fiancée américaine (The American fiancée) is an epic, a playful, quirky family saga that takes in all of the 20th century, from parochial Rivière-du-Loup to Dachau, post-GDR Berlin, New York City, Rome, and Japan. It has been favourably compared to Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks, and Dupont himself to John Irving and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. High praise indeed. Read on to find out why.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Atavisms

Atavisms

The thirteen stories move across time, some set contemporarily, others in the past or the future. The movement is not linear; with the start of each, the moment in history needs to be located anew. However, the place is ever the same. These are stories of Quebec, both in their location and their hearts.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by P.T. Smith
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Rebel Priest in the Time of Tyrants

Rebel Priest in the Time of Tyrants

Readers knowing little about the Catholic Church might dismisss Rebel Priest in the Time of Tyrants as too much like inside baseball. That would be a mistake.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Repentir(s)

Repentir(s)

Ste-Marie has a strong background in fine arts, and he weaves his experience masterfully into the fabric of this novel. He opens a door for the reader to the inner sanctum of the art world—dusty studios, antique tubes of oil paint, forgers, fraudsters, and all. Through Pagliaro, he offers a window into a more discerning kind of detective.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by David Warriner
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Le cadavre de Kowalski

Le cadavre de Kowalski

“You are well and truly dead,” she confirms. “But keep going. Tell me what happened underground, Mr. Kowalksi.”

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review and translation by Peter McCambridge
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L’angoisse du poisson rouge

L’angoisse du poisson rouge

One of fiction’s most valuable roles must be to get the reader to stop and consider something they had previously been aware of without ever taking the time to probe and investigate more thoroughly. L’angoisse du poisson rouge will leave more than a few anxious to read up on Italy’s role in the second world war.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Ravenscrag

Ravenscrag

It’s complicated. Written by Alain Farah, Pourquoi Bologne, here translated by Lazer Lederhendler as Ravenscrag and published by House of Anansi’s Arachnide imprint, involves a writer named Alain Farah who is simultaneously living in Montreal in 1962 and 2012.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Ru

Ru

Kim Thúy’s Ru just won Canada Reads, but we’re not convinced:

“It is perfect book club fodder: Exotic, but not too foreign. Well written, but not hard to read, not overly literary. From Quebec, but universal enough to be translated and read in so many languages. It’s a safe choice, part of a rather bland current of global world literature that takes few risks.”

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Terreur dans le Downtown Eastside

Terreur dans le Downtown Eastside

In her debut novel, the first in an upcoming trilogy, Jacqueline Landry takes us by the hand and leads us deep into the bowels of the Vancouver ghetto, where a serial killer is targeting prostitutes who work the streets.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by David Warriner
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Les peaux cassées

Les peaux cassées

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.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Sports et divertissements

Sports et divertissements

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.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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A Stone in My Shoe

A Stone in My Shoe

George Ellenbogen’s A Stone in My Shoe: In Search of Neighbourhood is his story of Jewish culture within Montreal. Cities don’t live just in facts, anecdotes, and people, but in myths, in the rumours passed around neighbourhoods by enthusiastic children, or adults amusing themselves by telling tales.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by P.T. Smith
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Le rôle des cochons

Le rôle des cochons

This is an action-packed young adult novel, weaving real historical events and heavy themes into the day-to-day concerns of a young boy between the ages of 12 and 16. It is written simply and well, posing some troubling questions along the way, all based around De La Salle’s expedition to Louisiana in 1684.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Wildwood

Wildwood

Somehow Wildwood manages to be a coming-of-age story, a murder mystery, and a critique of America’s involvement in Vietnam through the eyes of the generation that may have felt its fallout the strongest.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by David Warriner
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ZORA, un conte cruel

ZORA, un conte cruel

Set in a make-believe 19th century Finland, Zora is beautifully written literary fiction. It’s much more than page-turning fantasy, although the pages turn almost by themselves. First and foremost, it’s original. Above all else, it’s a story. And what a story. What a book.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Chercher Sam

Chercher Sam

Chercher Sam is a simple novel, a novel of the street, written in the language of the street. It is simple, but not simplistic, instead adding depth and interest to the character we most often ignore, the one we try not to talk to, the one we walk by, the one we don’t want to touch: the homeless guy in the street with his dog.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Serafim and Claire

Serafim and Claire

Despite what the title may have you believe, Serafim and Claire is no love story. It is a novel about rash decisions, about the interconnectedness of our lives, and about chasing dreams. But there is a sweetness to the story, a redemptive quality to its end. It is the kind of novel that keeps you up with the bedside lamp on until the last page is turned.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Arielle Aaronson
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Frères

Frères

Frères is a reflection of our own familiar world in a distorting mirror, a world of “monstrous creatures, bigger than anything they could imagine, two-headed fish, turtles with shells as huge as islands, whales with mouths big enough to swallow whole cities,” all seen through the eyes of two brothers, the elder missing an arm, the younger fashioned by his mother from that arm so that his sibling would not have to face the cruel world alone.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Interview with Felicia Mihali

Interview with Felicia Mihali

This week Québec Reads spoke with the author of A Second Chance, Felicia Mihali.

“This book would have been something completely different in French. It would have been a tragic, Shakespearean novel about faith, misfortune, hardship. When you know a language too well you cannot avoid the pitfall of giving too many details. My first experience with writing in English was the chance to be simple, colloquial, and funny. My previous books written in Romanian or French are really missing mockery which, as a reader, I appreciate a lot in a book.”

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review and interview with Felicia Mihali
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Peut-être jamais

Peut-être jamais

Peut-être jamais is a novel that might well pull you out of your comfort zone. Maxime Collins clearly has talent and conjures up some inspiring words that spur the reader to reflect on the challenges of growing up, the fleeting nature of youth, and how our lives can change in a split-second.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by David Warriner
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My October

My October

My October has impressive depth, building layer upon layer of personal, family tension. Can all this tension be boiled down to politics? Perhaps. But what comes first is family drama and lots of it in a very readable, cinematic page-turner.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Le vertige des insectes

Le vertige des insectes

Le vertige des insectes is a subtle, unspectacular novel of checked smiles and repressed emotions. But still waters run deep.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Cycling to Asylum

Cycling to Asylum

Cycling to Asylum is a mostly successful blend of various genres, set in future versions of New York City and Montreal.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Hollywood

Hollywood

Is Hollywood a tragic love story, a parable of strength in the face of adversity, or a seething social commentary? No matter how you see it, Marc Séguin keeps us guessing until the final twist.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by David Warriner
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Je suis là

Je suis là

Christine Eddie’s third novel is “a true story, but not quite the truth.” Eddie has romanticized the story of a family friend, a real-life Angèle struck down by real-life tragedy. She is there to tell us her story. Because Angèle cannot.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Translation and review by Peter McCambridge
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La Première minute de Mathieu

La Première minute de Mathieu

This short little book for younger readers is simple and touching throughout. It gives a voice to the Mathieus of this world. The little boys we pass in the street, the ones playing alone in the park. Tibo’s writing lets us hear their suffering, their cries for help.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Un vélo dans la tête

Un vélo dans la tête

More than a straightforward travelogue, Un vélo dans la tête is exquisite, so good you could stick a pin in it and come up with a paragraph to remember, a turn of phrase that rolls around memorably in the mouth before bringing a smile to your lips.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Le chant de la terre innue

Le chant de la terre innue

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.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Mister Roger and Me

Mister Roger and Me

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.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Arielle Aaronson
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J’haïs les Anglais

J’haïs les Anglais

The Plains of Abraham. The Durham Report. The War Measures Act. Conscription. Stephen Harper. The Orangemen. Rob Ford… The narrator of J’haïs les Anglais has plenty of reasons to hate “the English,” his catch-all term for anyone who speaks the language of Yes, No, Toaster that he can’t understand.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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On the Proper Use of Stars

On the Proper Use of Stars

Thousands of people came to witness the departure of the Erebus and the Terror from British soil in 1845; Sir John Franklin was hailed as a hero setting off to conquer the Northwest Passage. But what began as a tremendous expedition set against a sea of cheering voices ended as a lone figure struggling in a vacuum of nothingness, hundreds of miles from anything but ice.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Arielle Aaronson
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Against God

Against God

Patrick Senécal offers the reader a unique perspective on what it must feel like to lose those who are closest to you, and how rapidly a respectable citizen can lose his grasp on reality and descend into chaos.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by David Warriner
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New Tab

New Tab

New Tab is a touching portrait of life in Montreal as so many of us know it today. Morissette’s is a unique voice, but at the same time it’s the voice of a generation, the voice of our generation.

“I thought about things like self-esteem, success, relationships and self-improvement all being for other people. I thought about self-sabotage being for me.
Later, I stared at what looked like the beginning of a sunrise.”

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Terre à bois

Terre à bois

Ever wondered what it would be like to say goodbye to the daily grind in the city and move to the country for a simpler life? In Sylvain Hotte’s Terre à bois (Wood lot) that’s exactly what Alain Demers decides to do when life hands him an opportunity to buy a cheap plot of land that seems too good to be true.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by David Warriner
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J’écris parce que je chante mal

J’écris parce que je chante mal

J’écris parce que je chante mal is a thoroughly charming collection of very short fiction, each short story lasting no more than a paragraph or a page or three. In all, around 100 stories make up the 200 pages.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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