Ghost stories, fables, and childhood memories from the great white north.
Perhaps the personal nature of these stories combined with their specific geographic setting will make them more meaningful to readers in Francophone Canada. Unfortunately, this translated collection's purposeful ambiguity and painterly writing style make the entries feel more like impressions of scenes rather than solid stories. Most of the tales are set in the title village, a small industrial community north of Quebec City. The opener, “My Father and Proust,” and its companion piece, “The Centre of Leisure and Forgetfulness,” are generic memoirs about childhood. Others are anomalies like “América,” a crime caper about an attempt to smuggle a woman over the border, and “Jigai,” an eerie portrait of a self-mutilating refugee. Much of the collection attempts to mimic classical gothicism. “Cryptozoology” portrays a strange creature in the woods from the point of view of an adolescent boy. “A Mirror in the Mirror” is a slight tale about a woman who pines away for an absent playwright and ultimately becomes the ghost that haunts him. A triptych of stories labeled “Blood Sisters” concern themselves with the monsters that roam the lives of girls. In the final sequence of the trilogy, “Paris in the Rain,” a woman is left alone in a morgue with the dismembered body of a man. “God is love and that’s why he’s terrible,” she says. “You can’t live, knowing that. You can just destroy your life and destroy your body and push others away and hurt others. You can just be evil and I was evil all the time and it’s your fault and the fault of the stupid God who loved you like he loved me, of God who loved you, big dirty dog, and who loved me, damaged little girl.”
An uneven collection of stories about cruel men, enigmatic women, and frightened children.