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Beauchemin, Yves.

Translated by Sheila Fischman. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, c1986. 450pp, paper, $14.95, ISBN 0-7710-1150-4. (McClelland and Stewart Signature series). CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Philip K. Harber

Volume 14 Number 5
1986 September

When the novel Le matou was published by Quebec-Amerique in 1981, it became a best-seller in Quebec, and the English version of it has been equally well received, perhaps because it can be read on at least two levels. Superficially, it is an absorbing tale of Montreal today, in which the hero makes good. On another level, it is a modern Faust story, in which he defeats the tempter Ratablavsky (or does he?). The ups and downs of Florent's struggle to make enough money to buy a restaurant to compete with the Beanery makes a man of him, but along the way other people suffer, for example, his friends, his wife, and the little boy who wants them to adopt him. Some of them even die horribly and mysteriously (such as "Monsieur Emile" and the hit man Georges-Etienne Cartier).

The large cast of colourful characters, some verging on caricature, and their lively dialogue (hard to render into appropriate popular English) would make this novel suitable for grade 12 courses studying Canadian society today and contemporary Canadian literature.

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