"NO SONG, BUT SILENCE" by H‚l≤ne LeBeau


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Small, unengaging debut written from the point of view of an unhappy infant. ""My sorrow is infinitely complicated,"" Fanny, the narrator, tells us. French-Canadian author LeBeau, unfortunately, doesn't show this in her one-note debut. Fanny comes into the world sour, then proceeds to tell us all its deficiencies with very few fresh insights. She is born in Paris, where her Canadian father is finishing up a doctoral degree in something to do with defending worker's rights, a subject he tackles to get back at his rich family. His wife, who assumed that she was marrying into wealth, is unhappy when her husband is cut off for his leftist beliefs. The family moves back to Quebec, where Fanny's father works for a union. A sister is born, then quickly dies, and Fanny begins reading the Bible at age two. At three she is enrolled in kindergarten, which disappoints her when she discovers she will not be taught how to write. Soon she has another sister and a brother, both of whom she must nurture because her mother is cold, and her father is usually absent. Sad Fanny is moved around several times, especially after her father has a mental collapse and upon recovery becomes a foreign correspondent covering revolutions around the globe. There is no abuse in her family, just garden variety non-communication and strange relatives who seem to traumatize precocious little Fanny deeply. At age seven she meets a boy of ten with whom she falls in love and to whom she loses her virginity in a highly improbable scene. When her father finally succeeds in destroying himself, the family goes on in its dysfunctional, dull way, Fanny as grim as the day she was born. Surprisingly tedious for so slim a volume.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1995
Page count: 178pp
Publisher: Coach House