The Black Notebook

By Michel Tremblay
Translated by Sheila Fischman

The Black Notebook
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In the heart of the Latin Quarter, meeting place of marginal characters of all sorts, Céline Poulin works the night shift at a cheap and popular restaurant, Le Sélect, serving hamburger platters and spaghetti and meatballs to student misfits, transvestites, hookers and queens ... Read more


Overview

In the heart of the Latin Quarter, meeting place of marginal characters of all sorts, Céline Poulin works the night shift at a cheap and popular restaurant, Le Sélect, serving hamburger platters and spaghetti and meatballs to student misfits, transvestites, hookers and queens from the Main—Montreal’s disreputable Boulevard Saint-Laurent. Hanging out with a theatre company in her off hours, Céline sees opening before her a world where it is not only possible, but even desirable to pretend. When the director offers her a role in The Trojan Women, the die is cast.

The Black Notebook is Céline’s diary, her account of her trials and tribulations, her expectations and her cruel disappointments, because this young waitress at Le Sélect has her own dramatic story to tell, even if only to herself: Céline is a midget.

From the theatre of Euripides to the theatre of Montreal’s Main, Michel Tremblay—our Balzac—creates and gives voice to some astonishing new characters in this first of a new series of novels. For the characters of The Black Notebook, the first in this trilogy, life is a comedy that barely conceals the cruel and pitiless tragedy of the everyday. With a transcendent eloquence and compassion, Michel Tremblay celebrates how it is possible for Céline to embrace her difference and to flourish—despite that difference, or perhaps, because of it.

Reviews

“The themes dear to Michel Tremblay can be found in this novel: humiliation, marginality, parent-child relationships, the difficulty of being different … ”
Nuit blanche

“Few will fail to empathize with the demi-heroine featuring in The Black Notebook’s pages … Despite the sometimes inescapable seriousness of his material, Tremblay will induce chortles, chuckles and belly laughs in hapless readers, not to mention expanding upon the delight readers will no doubt take in his mastery of caricature. With a stroke here, a telling detail there, he creates characters who linger in the mind to participate in a marvellously mysterious mental dance.

The internationally revered playwright continues to prove his prowess, economically telegraphing the anguish of savaged youth evapourating into an anonymous and opaque past, which can only be rescued by brave new words and lovingly shaping a fictional world that magnifies, clarifies and illuminates our own obdurate existence. ”
Globe and Mail

“Michel Tremblay succeeds in building a rich and tangible universe. The Black Notebook possesses a rare intelligence in painting lively portraits of those in struggle, who do not play by established rules and who cannot be defined by absolutes. ”
Le Devoir

“The themes dear to Michel Tremblay can be found in this novel: humiliation, marginality, parent-child relationships, the difficulty of being different … ”
Nuit blanche

“Tremblay’s work has always been marked by his compassion for the underdog—women more often than not—and The Black Notebook continues that tradition … The Black Notebook emerges as a powerful character study, a social history—as always with Tremblay, the political content is there, but always as an organic element of the story—as well as a love letter to the world of the theatre. ”
Montreal Review of Books

“Tremblay’s work has always been marked by his compassion for the underdog—women more often than not—and The Black Notebook continues that tradition … The Black Notebook emerges as a powerful character study, a social history—as always with Tremblay, the political content is there, but always as an organic element of the story—as well as a love letter to the world of the theatre. ”
Montreal Review of Books

“Few will fail to empathize with the demi-heroine featuring in The Black Notebook’s pages … Despite the sometimes inescapable seriousness of his material, Tremblay will induce chortles, chuckles and belly laughs in hapless readers, not to mention expanding upon the delight readers will no doubt take in his mastery of caricature. With a stroke here, a telling detail there, he creates characters who linger in the mind to participate in a marvellously mysterious mental dance.

The internationally revered playwright continues to prove his prowess, economically telegraphing the anguish of savaged youth evapourating into an anonymous and opaque past, which can only be rescued by brave new words and lovingly shaping a fictional world that magnifies, clarifies and illuminates our own obdurate existence. ”
Globe and Mail

“Michel Tremblay succeeds in building a rich and tangible universe. The Black Notebook possesses a rare intelligence in painting lively portraits of those in struggle, who do not play by established rules and who cannot be defined by absolutes. ”
Le Devoir

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