by Daniel Rondeau
I can now say with confidence that I have read more pieces by Daniel Rondeau than by any other author. 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. The short ones are the most enjoyable, the rare disappointments reserved for the longer pieces, as though the author is in his element when painting a scene, at his least convincing when forced to develop it.
The resulting sketches are impressive, though. Rondeau is at his best when talking about drinking and relationships, hiding in a pub from the world outside—and, of course, in equal measure, hiding in a pub and still very much a part of the world outside, as problems caused by the demon drink, children, births, deaths, and marriages continue to play on his mind, whatever the time of night, no matter how many pints he’s had.
But it’s not all about drinking. Serious themes like the Dawson College and Virginia Tech massacres even get a mention, as Rondeau contemplates the lighter and the weightier things in life, swirling his glass, holding it up to the light, and trying to figure out where it all went wrong, how he lucked out, if it even matters.
We put down the book convinced that Rondeau would make a fine drinking companion. Although, as he takes care to point out in the epigraph, “Je est un autre.” His liver will be relieved to hear it.
Review by Peter McCambridge
Read an excerpt in translation here.