From the confused little country
I must have bought this book on my last trip to Montreal, more than 20 years ago, but only now got around to reading it. Brilliant portraits of very different lives in this complex, vibrant metropolis, from the points of view of sophisticated intellectuals and artists, a Haitian taxi driver and his house-cleaning wife, a Chinese immigrant making her way as a writer in this francophone culture, ordinary workers and even a street beggar, each of them somehow, some more than others, feeling a little out of place in the petit pays confus — Québec — encastré dans un gran pays mou (from the story “Oui or no” about, among other things, the failed referendum on independence). Proulx’s language, from the most formal French to Québec argot and occasional anglicisms, captures the nuances of these different people and their concerns and situations.
Monique Proulx is also a novelist and a television scriptwriter. This review should have been written in her language, but my French is not yet strong or subtle enough to express my enthusiasm for this wonderful work.