“He followed Claire into the club, keeping close as they walked deeper into the bare-bulbed electric light, where sweat, smoke, alcohol, and perfume washed over them in a raucous wave that almost knocked Serafim back. The music was more ardent and raw than in the other clubs, with newly arrived musicians pulling bronze trumpets and saxophones out of cases lined with purple velvet and shouldering their way closer to the stage. To Serafim, it was bedlam. Claire, on the other hand, fed on the chaos.”
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.
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.”
A Second Chance by Felicia Mihali tells the story of a Romanian couple in the impressively multicultural city of Laval. It’s spring 2012 and Adam is recovering from a stroke. His right arm has been left paralyzed and his memories are almost completely gone. Daily life with his wife is both deathly dull (trips to Costco and the mall) and full of fear (he’s too afraid to answer the phone, scared that people will speak to him in the language he has now forgotten).
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.
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.”