Novels from here: in the depths of the woods, in the depths of oneself

Novels from here: deep in the woods, deep inside


A mother finds her son, entangled in his life like the trees in the forest. This is how raw material and disturbing thoughts meet.

There is an almost biblical rhythm in My son only came back for seven days. The title announces it and the unfolding of the novel punctuates it. 

Each chapter opens in the same way, counting the days: “The first day my son confided to me”, “The fourth day I took out the photo album”, “The fifth day Mathias had disappeared”…

But unlike the Bible, it is not the creation of a world that we are witnessing, rather the deconstruction of Mathias, the son of the narrator.

Paradoxically, this return of the son, gone for ten years and suddenly passing through his mother's cabin, will breathe new life into her.

The week will not be light, however. Mathias has the impression that his brain is under the influence of mushrooms which invade it, like a mirror of nature which surrounds the duo.

We are in Mauricie, in the middle of the woods, not far from a peat bog where mother and son once liked to go for a walk. 

Writer of the organic

The novel therefore tells the story of the forest while, at the same time, Mathias tells his mother about his years of rough wandering across America, as far as Mexico. The same words refer to these two worlds, suddenly related.

His three previous books bear witness to this, David Clerson is a writer of organics. Under his pen, the strangeness he likes to explore has smells, texture, an animality that takes us out of the veneer of civilization.

We are again in this approach: “[ He depicted to me the apocalyptic landscapes in which he now lived […] and I understood that for him reality was rooted in rottenness”, notes the mother from the first day.

The light springs

But there is light in this novel. Rediscovering her son, identifying with him, the mother better understands the letters he sent her erratically, without her ever having an address where to reply to him.

C t is also an opportunity for her to take stock of her family life: a missing husband, an overly conformist daughter, a son-in-law she doesn't love, a helpful sister, a chalet inherited from her father and grandfather. A beloved yet puzzling son, whose letters she had received “first with haste, then with apprehension, sometimes even with disgust”.

And there are the grandchildren she hangs out with too much little. However, they are the ones who hold the thread of the transmission.

At the end of the journey, Clerson therefore takes us finely from the week while apprehensive that the narrator lives with Mathias to the few days of initiation to the forest that she will end up sharing with the young Mathilde and Mathieu.

The dark novel then lights up, while remaining glued to the material. Because nature is the strongest.