A Tristram Shandy–esque novella about failing memory and failed writing, from one of French Canada’s most exciting new voices.
A young, floundering author meets Robert ‘Baloney’ Lacerte, an older, marginal poet who seems to own nothing beyond his unwavering certainty. Over the course of several evenings, Lacerte recounts his unrelenting quest for poetry, which has taken him from Quebec’sBoreal forests to South America to East Montreal, where he seems poised to disappear without a trace. But as the blocked writer discovers, Lacerte might just be full of it.
‘Yes, you’ll read Baloney quickly. But you’re highly unlikely to read it only once.’
– Montreal Gazette
‘Maxime Raymond Bock has created an endearing folk hero, or rather anti-hero… the brevity, the light touch, and the playful prose—finely captured in English by Pablo Strauss, who also translated Atavisms—strike just the right note, lingering long enough to warm the heart and leave a lasting impression. And although a distinctly Québécois flavour permeates the tale, seen, for example, in the French-Canadian poetic traditions that Robert, ever idealistic, tries to align himself with; Baloney is a novel charged with the type of broad, comic, and deeply human appeal that knows no borders.’
– The Rusty Toque
‘[Bock’s] deeply original writing always seeks out the mot juste, then sculpts them into sentences that describe the slightest variations of human emotions in spectacular complexity, harnessing the power of form, rhythm, and sound.’
—Mario Cloutier, La Presse (translated from the French)
‘Books are dangerous. They call into question the order of things, turn the world upside down to get a better sense of it and shake the dust off the lenses we look through. [...] No one can say where this book by Maxime Raymond Bock will take us. It’s an incandescent plea for the latent powers of literature, something like a necessity.’
—Jérémy Laniel, Spirale (translated from the French)
Praise for Atavisms:
‘Crackles with the energy of a Québécois folk song, impassioned and celebratory but also melancholy and cheekily ironic ... As in Bolaño’s work, narrative itself is often the subject; stories are folded within other stories and narrators are constantly asserting their presence ... Like Bolaño, Bock alternates between rage, sorrow, protest, and dark comedy, and the two writers share a sense of urgency – of writing against time as much as about it.’
—Pasha Malla, The New Yorker
‘Yes, you’ll read Baloney quickly. But you’re highly unlikely to read it only once. ’
'BockÃ¢€™s low-key prose swiftly changes registers, from nostalgic to ironic, from reverential to wry, allowing the narrator to express a broad spectrum of emotion in contrast to RobertÃ¢€™s hardened stoicism. Pablo StraussÃ¢€™ deft translation makes it easy to forget this is a translated work so the immense affection we come to feel for him reflects the immensity of BockÃ¢€™s talent. '
‘Maxime Raymond Bock has created an endearing folk hero, or rather anti-hero… And although a distinctly QuÃ? ©bÃ? ©cois flavour permeates the tale, seen, for example, in the French-Canadian poetic traditions that Robert, ever idealistic, tries to align himself with; Baloney is a novel charged with the type of broad, comic, and deeply human appeal that knows no borders. ’
'Ã¢€ ¦ a deeply fulfilling exploration of what it means to write. '