Montreal Gazette

DARK STORIES YIELD WISDOM

- MICHELLE LALONDE

All of the stories in Quebec City writer Mireille Gagné’s new story collection, Noirceur et autres couleurs are dark and troubling. But Gagné’s prose is so lush, her themes so profound, that reading her stories is at once uncomforta­ble, refreshing and intense, like walking in a summer rainstorm.

The collection is aimed at mature teens and young adults, and explores some fairly dark territory, including incest, suicide, divorce and death. But the characters in these stories all seem to find some lifeline, some glimmer of human integrity or hope to pull them away from the darkness and into the other colours referred to in the title.

In La Pêche aux renards, for example, an old man wakes up in a hospital with no memory. A little boy he doesn’t recognize is holding his hand. The boy explains that he is Tom, the man’s grandson. For days, the boy recounts stories of wonderful times the two have shared, slowly filling the man’s blank mind with happy memories. One day, the old man realizes that this is not his grandson, that these are not his memories, and that the boy’s real grandfathe­r has recently died.

“Why are you crying Papi?” asks the boy. “I know you are not my little Tom.” The boy’s eyes fill with tears. “And you are not my Papi.” But instead of asking the boy about his real grandfathe­r, the old man simply takes the child’s hand. The two carry on where they left off, discussing fictional memories, both happy to suspend disbelief.

“Do you remember the time we went fishing for foxes?”

“Yes, it had rained so much that the foxes had to learn to swim.”

The reader too must suspend disbelief, and face some of life’s ugly truths, to appreciate Gagné’s stories, but the payoff is immense.

Noirceur et autres couleurs By Mireille Gagné Éditions trampoline, 96 pages, $11.95

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