Intimité et autres objets fragiles by Marie-Ève Sévigny
September 5, 2012 § Leave a comment
Someone who really should have known better once told me that Quebecois authors didn’t write short stories. Marie-Ève Sévigny might have a thing or two to say about that. Her recent collection (or recueil de nouvelles, a charming term that always puts this anglophone in mind of a bountiful harvest–presumably recueil must come from the same root as récolte, which means harvest), Intimité et autres objets fragiles is exactly the kind of assured, confident and curious writing that marks the best short stories in English.
This isn’t really a review, so I won’t summarise the plots of individual short stories, especially since plot is so often secondary in importance to other things going on in a story. The collection is contemporary realist in genre, and Sévigny is good at swooping in on small details and bringing them to life. Intimité is a slim volume, just one hundred pages and ten stories–the perfect length if you want to brush up your French reading skills. Much of the literature that travels beyond the Quebec border seems to be stereotyped as either sappy and sentimental or “experimental” (which in this case often means unreadable yet unoriginal). This work is published by a small press, so it probably won’t get much attention in Canada, never mind the rest of the world, but it demonstrates that Quebec is very much part of the global literary conversation.