David Clerson - an original, phantasmagoric piece of fiction that is steeped in myth and fable. In a world of “gruesome, gargantuan creatures, two-headed fish, turtles with shells as big as islands, whales with mouths so large they could consume entire cities,” two brothers set out to find their dog of a father

QCFINF16 - CoverBrothers_v9
David Clerson, Brothers, Trans. by Katia Grubisic, Baraka Books, 2016.
excerpt


David Clerson’s first novel won the Grand prix littéraire Archambault 2014. It is an original piece of fiction, steeped in myth and fable, a reflection of our own familiar surroundings in a distorting mirror. This world of “monstrous creatures, bigger than anything they could imagine, two-headed fish, turtles with shells as huge as islands, whales with mouths big enough to swallow up whole cities” is seen through the eyes of two brothers, the elder brother missing an arm, the younger fashioned by his mother from that arm.


“A surprising blend of fairy tale and adventure story, Brothers is a violent epic that feels like an ancient legend. A remarkable first novel, anchored in the traditions of another age and carried along by modern language.” —Lettres québécoises


"Katia Grubisic’s translation of the text offers flowing, unadorned prose that sings with the depth and simplicity of the story. Clerson’s narrative charms lead us wilfully to unknown and unthinkable places. In the end, the reader is left with a single feather of hope, and the knowledge that beautiful monsters lurk at the fringes of CanLit." —Dean Garlick

“Katia Grubisic’s translation of the text offers flowing, unadorned prose that sings with the depth and simplicity of the story. Clerson’s narrative charms lead us wilfully to unknown and unthinkable places. In the end, the reader is left with a single feather of hope, and the knowledge that beautiful monsters lurk at the fringes of CanLit.” - Montreal Review of Books

“David Clerson is a master of the finely chiselled sentence and the disturbing world of the imagination.” - Dominic Tardif

“Of a violence and beauty all its own, Clerson’s mythical prose is a genuine literary revelation.” - Jérémy Laniel

“In barely 140 pages, Clerson manages to weave a tale of almost biblical dimensions.” - Daniel Grenier

“A first novel that is clever and risk-taking in equal measure.” (Les Libraires magazine)
David Clerson’s Brothers is an original, phantasmagoric piece of fiction that is steeped in myth and fable. In a world of “gruesome, gargantuan creatures, two-headed fish, turtles with shells as big as islands, whales with mouths so large they could consume entire cities,” two brothers set out to find their dog of a father. The elder brother is missing an arm, while his younger brother has been fashioned by his mother from that arm. Excess and adventure abound as fresh, original writing draws us in to “surreal, hostile worlds.” We meet the leech-boys, a wooden puppet the brothers drag from the sea to become a member of the family, six pig-children, and more, all conveyed in a tone that lies somewhere between delirium and a disturbing dream.


QC Fiction is set to release another translation of a Quebec novel (in November 2016) entitled Brothers by David Clerson. This novel (under its French title Frères) won the Grand prix littéraire Archambault 2014. The other two QC Fiction novels, Life in the Court of Matane and The Unknown Huntsman were exceptional in their content, very diverse and humorous in an off-beat way. Brothers is certainly no exception. Yet, providing a brief outline as to what the story is about is like describing colours to the blind or music to the deaf. Or rhyming “orange.”
Myth or Dreamworld?
The time and place is unknown. In fact, this could be all a dream, or an oral narrative, handed down from generation to generation and often that seems to work best in coping with the narrative.
So, in a nutshell: there are two brothers, both unnamed except for the appellations “older brother” and “younger brother.”The older brother has no left arm. His mother told him she chopped it off the day he was born so she could fashion it into a brother for him. This younger brother is ‘whole’ but his arms are too short for his body. (Sounds like phocomelia like that caused by thalidomide usage).
Are you with me so far? Good.
The two brothers live with their elderly, sight-impaired and senile mother who raises goats for food and keeps a small garden. They live close to the ocean, which is portrayed as a dwelling place of all types of creatures, loathsome leviathans and other nightmarish beasts. The ocean is always black, always washing up things animate and inanimate for the brothers to play with or sell in the village. Eventually, they repair an old boat and venture on an odyssey in search of their “dog of a father” who- yes- really is a dog. And a giant one at that.
Still with me?
Fantasy/Horror/Mtyhology?
Author David Clerson has cleverly constructed a story that could have been told hundreds of years ago by peoples living near the ocean. Similarly, there is no easy way to pigeon hole the time or place of the narrative, let alone the genre that Brothers could be filed under. There are moments of sheer horror, not of the demonic or spiritistic type, but that of vivid, untenable situations and eerie experiences. This is especially so when the older brother experiences life as a dog, eventually seeking vengeance on the family that abused him and the bitch he loved:
He woke ready to paint the world the shade of nightmares.
One cannot really sum up the entire story in a paragraph or two. Brothers is a book that has to be read, or rather, experienced. When I first started reading it, I was fairly reminded of the H.P. Lovecraft novel The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, for Brothers appeared dreamlike to me; Lovecraft’s novel was the only touchstone I had to interpret what I was reading and assessing the imagery appearing in my mind. Certainly, dreams figure prominently in the brother’s lives (it is in a dream we are introduced to the dog of a father), and often I wasn’t convinced that the story wasn’t simply a dream that the older brother was having. Or was it reality? Did the younger brother ever exist? Was their father really a dog? Clerson’s striking heroic story is there for the interpretation. Brothers would make for a very stimulating and lively book club discussion. - miramichireader.ca/2016/08/brothers-review/



brothers excerpt

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