Viviane Videloup grew up “in the rubble of romanticism,” among the animals that her father stuffed. Being a writer, she believes that her style “is romantic in order to give an appearance of life to the deceased and to perpetuate an endless mourning.” To take a vacation—away from everything—and refrain from writing: those are the starting points of this trip to Belgium, where Viviane’s cloudy memory intertwines with that of her friends. Louis Leloup is gone, but Laurent Louve waits for her in Brussels. As for Fleure, the childhood friend, she will appear to her on the Grand-Place, beautiful and vivid as a “magnolia standing on top of the harshest winters.” Fleurs au fusil explores the desire for creation, renewal and persistence, combines elegance and cruelty, lyrical and philosophical frenzies, violence and beauty.
In this captivating novel, very short tableaux follow one another, always headed by a title which condenses the poetry of passing. The form is very pleasant and favours a type of reading that is closer to the poetical form than to the novel. We let ourselves be carried away by the somewhat lazy rhythm of contemplation, without any haste. To read Deschênes’s poetry—or perhaps (who knows?) her next novel—is a real treat we wish to renew.
Fleurs au fusil exudes this sort of poetry and evocative images that enhance the unsettling aspects of the work. Deschênes is destabilizing by the language she uses, often crude and very emotional, but also by her rejection and adoption of multiple literary forms all at once.
At last something stylistically accomplished, focusing on the writing! At last, a profusion of images transcending the sordid everyday life too often portrayed in Quebec literature! Mind you, the world of this novel isn’t all that sunny, but its darkness periodically lets the light come in.
Thomas Dupont-Buist, Club de lecture de la librairie Gallimard de Montréal
The first novel for the poet and professor of philosophy Marjolaine Deschênes, Fleurs au fusil is an almost mystical mise en abyme by its incredible work over language, and its powerful reflection on creation and books.