Morel: more than just a worker

Morel: more than just a worker


How, starting from an ordinary destiny, trace the unforgettable course of a life? To be continued Morel, we understand that the sublime is everywhere.

How to intertwine an ode to the builders of Montreal and an equally strong one towards its expropriated? How to weave a life of small misery and great pain and yet retain the quiet happiness?

How to combine lessons in history, sociology or professional techniques with the terrible blows of kids, with weddings, with drinking, with little ones and with death, the cursed death…

Maxime Raymond Bock achieved this by creating Jean-Claude Morel, a construction guy born in the Faubourg à m'lasse and whose name Morel gives its title to a formidable novel, the first by this talented short story writer.

Morel is one of those people who don't count; yet we owe him modern Montreal. He was involved in all construction sites: the Métropolitaine, the Turcot interchange, the Olympic Stadium, Place Ville-Marie, where he never set foot once the skyscraper was completed.

And the métro, a real source of pride for workers as it is beautiful and useful.

But while Montreal was developing, work accidents multiplied. We have forgotten all about it today, but Morel has seen fallen comrades.

For him, it was elsewhere that bad luck struck. The Montreal of the future demanded its due not only in lives, but also in houses to be destroyed: it will be expropriated twice. Let the poor manage to start from scratch.

But the poor are resourceful, proud: do they have a choice? And Morel can count on family and friends, then in-laws and children, then a new love to share the burden of the days, and its pleasures too.

“Because it happens that happiness shows itself, and Morel does not need to be told where to look to see it. “It's called the sun on the skin, a coffee in hand, “sparrows pecking the cracked earth of the courtyard”, its children playing: it makes noise, it smells, it's concrete. 

As real as wounds, illness, blows to the face or running rats: misfortune takes many forms.

A nugget of gold

Maxime Raymond Bock recounts Morel's life as memories return to the old man. Nothing chronological: one chapter ends on a scene, the next one opens with the same characters or the same play years later or before. Like an idea that leads to another. You get used to it quickly, carried away by these layers of life.

The author's verb is also as precise as the gestures he describes, as rich as the emotions that agitate Morel, as teeming than the vanished neighborhood.

And it turns out to be unexpectedly beautiful: a deeply buried nugget of gold, freshly mined, covered in dirt, and suddenly starting to glow.

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