Eric Dupont’s Life in the Court of Matane (2015) was first published in English translation by Peter McCambridge in 2016, the first of Montreal’s QC Fiction’s volumes; the second edition is forthcoming in 2021 with an introduction by Heather O’Neill.
What could possibly compare, I speculated, with the operatic high-fantasy realist doorstopper of Songs for the Cold of Heart (also translated by Peter McCambridge).
Certainly not this story of two children of divorce, in which the father and mother are compared to the high and low, uneven bars in the Olympic gold, gymnastic routine of Nadia Comaneci, I pshawed.
But after a few dozen pages, all the other stories about divorce I’ve read (and it’s a pet theme of mine, so…a lot) were observed to have failed, for clearly a set of uneven bars is the only way to adequately and honestly describe family breakdown. Of course, that’s not true, and now that I’ve finished reading, I know that (again).
Dupont’s gift is that his stories have never been told in such a way before, could only ever be told in that way, and will never again be told like that. No, no: the actual magic is that you believe that while you’re reading.
When I talk about falling into a certain kind of book, Dupont’s book is that kind. And if you don’t think so, don’t worry, it will only last a couple—or, few—hundred pages: “The funny thing about memory is that it always ends up chasing its own tail. The most important thing is to keep it moving.”