“From 1861 until the end of the war in 1865, clandestine activities in Montreal closely resembled what occurred in places such as spy-riddled Casablanca, Lisbon or Geneva during the Second World War.”
An interview with Montreal-based writer Matthew Murphy, author of A Beckoning War.
This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with people who are closely involved with Quebec literature on a daily basis as we continue to talk to publishers, readers, bookstore owners, and translators to get a feel for today’s publishing scene in Quebec.
“I hate hockey!” is the first and last sentence in this novel that offers a new take on Canada’s love-hate relationship with hockey. Narrator Antoine Vachon blames the game for killing his marriage with his beautiful ex-wife (well, that and the power outage that brought her home unexpectedly to find him in bed with her intern). But hockey is a pretext for unlikely adventure in this sardonic roman noir that at times flirts with the outrageous.
As a writer, Robert A. Poirier is in no hurry. Details and descriptions build like moss on a rock. At times, the writing is as crystal clear as river water. At others, it’s as tangled and sprawling as a busy forest floor. Gruff conversation gives way to dry dates softened in warm tea. Even in the few stories not directly set in the great outdoors, nature usually gets a say (in a Christmas Eve snowstorm, for example). Characters whisper softly “like an eddy as it swirls, flowing downstream with the current” as Poirier brings nature to life, with its sights and sounds and smells. All in all, it’s a pleasant stroll through this collection of short stories in an outdoor world of spring and thaw and Malamutes.
This is the second in a series of interviews with people who are closely involved with Quebec literature on a daily basis. In the future, we’ll talk to publishers, readers, bookstore owners, and translators to get a feel for today’s publishing scene in Quebec.
Robin Philpot founded publishing company Baraka Books in 2009 and is also an author. Baraka Books has published more than 30 books from Quebec, many of them translated from the French.