Novels from here: savoring the taste of others

Romans from here: savoring the taste of others


Marie-Hélène Poitras leads us into stories marked by the challenge of our time: how to satisfy the desire to be together.

There is at Marie's -Hélène Poitras something of the painter in motion: throwing lines and colors on the canvas, by this single gesture, he already delivers a work. The writer, on the other hand, lays out before our eyes sentences so finely put together that even before knowing where they will lead us, we are won over.

Her latest book, a collection of short stories bearing the curious title by Galumpf (we will have the explanation in the book), demonstrates it again.

The heart of the matter is our need for others — out of love, desire, good neighborliness, protection, or concern for humanity.

In this regard, the new Empathy Exercises — who almost gave his name to the collection — stands out. A young woman decided to be a kind of modern-day Jesus Christ: to love everyone, including her co-workers. Work is alienating, you have to try to stay human.

But there is no shortage of petty despots in the hierarchies; so how do you love who looks down on you? “Don't judge him. Don't hate it. It's really difficult. Maybe I wouldn't make it.” Hold out your hand, okay, but if no one grabs it? 

There are therefore impossible links in this beautiful collection. The radio host returned to his loneliness after his very last night show is a brutal example. But there are also survivors, like this little girl left to herself, whose only companion is a huge, barely domesticated dog. Disaster seems inevitable.

“Don’t hurt the little girl, even if it’s in a made-up story,” however, asked the author’s boyfriend. The promise, judiciously integrated, will be kept.

Let yourself be surprised

This sensitivity, openly assumed or transposed into universes at the antipodes – from the gloomy downtown Montreal to an island cut off from the mainland – gives the pleasant impression that Poitras advances in his stories at the same pace as us, let herself be surprised.

Thus, in the sensual short story Hunters jumpers, we must see how its narrator, a high-class rider, goes from “  he» to “you” to tell the desire that rises towards his trainer. And how, further on, his offer of love collapses into a single, unexpected sentence.

Marie-Hélène Poitras concludes her collection with a text that weaves the parallels between her love for horses (she rode for a long time and devoted her first novel, Griffintown) to them, and for writing. 

We read “Going on horseback has the beauty of what is vain » ; The sentence also applies to writing. But in both cases, the risk, the discipline, the moments of grace that are added to it prevail for those who launch themselves into it.

And for those who observe, we can only bow in front of the elegance of a successful exercise.