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Gilles Archambault.

Ottawa, Oberon Press, c1982.
156pp, paper, $17.95 (cloth), $8.95 (paper).
ISBN 0-88750-433-7 (cloth), 0-88750-434-5 (paper).

Reviewed by Philip K. Harber.

Volume 11 Number 1.
1983 January.

The original title was Parlons de moi; the English title, too, suggests that the forty-year-old anti-hero is drinking scotch with anyone who will listen to him baring his soul. The novel is like an extended letter from him to Madeleine, the wife of seventeen years he cannot do without but cannot live with, either. The relationship between them is seen from the man's point of view, but it becomes evident, as the narrative describes their past life together during her absence on vacation in France, that Madeleine is mentally unstable. The question of whether her husband was the cause of her unhappy condition or merely a contributing factor is not resolved, but there is no doubt that the Montreal Irishman, Tommy, plays the role of the tempter (or perhaps the scapegoat), while Christian, the introverted son of Madeleine and Tommy, regards the narrator as his true father and seems to be the real victim of the whole affair. We are led to believe that the narrator married Madeleine knowing that she bore Tommy's child, but that Tommy did not know this. The final judgment of the reader is an open verdict: perhaps it is Quebec society today that should bear the blame, suggests the author, an established figure in Quebec writing of the present day.

Philip K. Harber, Toronto Board of Education, Toronto, ON.
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