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St. Lawrence Blues by Marie-Claire Blais
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St. Lawrence Blues

by Marie-Claire Blais

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Originally published as Un Joualonais, Sa Joualonie, Blais's novel is set in a 1970s Montreal mostly covered in snow and drenched with alcohol, sex, poverty and revolutionary protest. Joual is the dialect and culture of the Montreal working class (probably roughly equivalent to Cockney in London or BBQ in NYC) and has been central to the Quebec sovereignty movement. St Lawrence Blues is a raucous tour through the East-End of Montreal narrated in an almost stream-of-consciousness fashion by the young Abraham Lemieux, aka Ti-Pit.

Ti-Pit was abandoned as an infant, brought up in an orphanage run by Catholic sisters, put out to work on a farm at a young age, jailed for stealing the farmer's car, and has just quit his job at a rubber company. He lives in a boarding house along with a drag-queen stripper, two lesbian-hookers, and his ex-girlfriend who refuses to leave his bed. His mentors are a renegade priest and the self-proclaimed Joual poet-laureate, and he is haunted by an old psychopathic compatriot, Ti-Guy. This picaresque novel best succeeds as a detailed and satirical glimpse into a very particular time and place ( )
  janeajones | Jun 15, 2012 |
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