Life in the Court of Matane's narrator Eric pieces together his childhood in the depths of the Quebec countryside with a new address for almost every birthday and few memories of his mother to hang onto. Similarly, the 2021 International Booker Prize-shortlisted Memory of Memory the narrator reclaims a familial past upon her aunt's death, sifting through an apartment full of memories—faded photographs, postcards, letters—to uncover a repository of a century of life in Russia. And like Eric Dupont's acclaimed novel, In Memory of Memory is a captivating family narrative that expertly balances a personal and cultural history.
Nine-year-old Berenice in Ducharme's Swallowed is not unlike Eric in Life in the Court of Matane: she's hyper-imaginative, intelligent, and resents her dysfunctional parents. Like Eric, Berenice lives in a remote place in Quebec, where she spends more time in her imagination than in reality, subsequently hatching a plan to run away from her overbearing parents. Gripping and hallucinatory, this coming-of-age holds up since its first publication in 1966 and has since been taught in high schools and universities as the foundation of modern Québécois literature.
If you connected with Eric in Life in the Court of Matane, Harriet is the funny and precocious child narrator you'll want to know. Like Eric, she lives in a dysfunctional household where she hatches a plan to run away to hole up in a cabin away from her family situation. What we wanted for Eric in Life in the Court of Matane—to be free to be who he is and foster his bookish side—we get in Harriet who embraces her passions, dumpster diving for the flotsam and jetsam that fuels her mixed-media art. On the Shores of Darkness, There is Light is a piercingly funny coming-of-age novel that devastates and inspires.
Tyler Enfield's award-winning adventure novel about a fourteen-year-old gunslinger with a heart of gold is the perfect follow-up for the reader who liked Eric's grand imagination best—readers will follow the treasure hunting, gun-slinging, and horseback heists in this tribute to boyhood enthusiasm and the heroes of classical quests. Like Rum-Drunk Angels is an offbeat, slightly magical, entirely original retelling of Aladdin as an American western.
That's a wrap on our July edition of #ALUbookclub! Catch up on the month's happenings with our introduction to Life in the Court of Matane, staff discussion, and interview with Eric Dupont. Remember you can still pick up your own copy of Life in the Court of Matane here on All Lit Up.
Stay tuned for our August book club on Rahela Nayebzadah's Monster Child.