Antique Jewels (1966) by Paul-Emile Borduas
You need to read Suzanne, by Anais Barbeau-Lavalette, a well-known artist, novelist and documentary filmmaker in Quebec. (She made Inch’allah, which I highly recommends and you can get at the Library on DVD). This is a fantastic novel. The grandmother, daughter, grand-daughter span 80 years of Quebec history. The daughter, from a poor family on the other side of river from Ottawa, joins the Automatistes — a revolutionary group of young artists and poets who rejected the stifling of culture and freedom in Duplessis’ Quebec. This book soars. Barbeau-Lavalette writes about art, artists and the political and cultural climate of Quebec under the near fascist 20 year rule of Premier Maurice Duplessis. It was a time that was called La Grande Noirceur (“The Great Darkness”).
Suzanne was a finalist on this year’s CBC Canada Reads, and I’m not surprised it didn’t win. I’m not surprised because of the pull-at-the-heartstrings book by Max Eisen By Chance Alone (about the Holocaust) which of course had to be number one. I recently read that book and as an autobiography it’s okay, but it’s Holocaust misery at its best. By that I mean the plethora of holocaust memorial books, films and so on seem to me to be another way to deflect discussion about the war crimes Israel perpetrates to oppress (and destroy the lives of) the Palestinians today.
Suzanne is loosely based on the author’s grandmother’s life. Lavalette writes about the outrageous control and impoverishment of the people by the Catholic church — which of course led to the “Quiet Revolution” in Quebec in the 1960s. There are delightful parts which detail painting, and poetry in the book. Like most novels, the beginning is far better than the ending. However this is a great book!
Something to Watch is Suspects, two seasons of DVDs. This is a British cop series, but it seems more like a documentary. Each episode is about a crime which the police can’t really understand. The cops play with their tried and true methods and find something more sordid or weird or ordinary has taken place — and the cops’ prejudices come thru. Worth watching — from the Library.