The Imago Stage
A woman must emerge from the virtual world she’s created to confront her flesh-and-blood past and family.
Growing up with a menacing drunk for a father and a grief-stricken mother, a girl spends her 1980s childhood staring at the television to escape the tension, depression, and looming violence that fill her suburban home. After winning a modelling competition, she dedicates herself to becoming a placid image onto which anything can be projected, a blank slate with a blank stare. Earning enough in Paris to retire in her twenties, she buys a studio in Montreal and retreats from the world and its perceived threats, cultivating her existence as an image through her virtual reality avatar. But when her mother develops cancer and nears the end of her life, she is forced to leave her cocoon – surrounded by her posse of augmented reality superheroes – and interact with the world and her parents without the mask of her perfect, virtual self.
Georges offers up an alienated childhood with shifting pop culture obsessions, a woman’s awakening to the role of the image in culture, and her eventual isolation in her apartment and the world online. It is a catalogue of the anxieties of an age, from nuclear war to terrorism, climate change to biological warfare. Set in the past and not-too-distant future of Montreal, The Imago Stage is an ominous tale of oppression, suppression, and disembodiment.
"A thought-provoking meditation on our relationships with images and digital life. " —Kirkus Reviews
"Karoline Georges doesn’t align herself with the vast community of techno-pessimists. Without slipping into utopianism, she sees technology’s exponential growth with clarity and curiosity. .. Virtual reality and artificial intelligence are words that do not scare her. .. With Karoline Georges, we go beyond obsession, beyond a will to please, or to seduce. We aim instead for pure disembodiment, we’re virtually in the realm of mysticism. " —Chantal Guy, La presse
"Here is an intoxicating novel, enigmatic and deeply troubling. .. a brilliant book, on our relationships to art, to bodies, and to contemporary technology, which assures us that images do indeed hold the power of seduction. " —Dominique Janelle, Le Vif / L'express
"A lucid and provocative novel. Karoline Georges brilliantly breaks open our fascination for screens, for emoticon conversations, for beauty without imperfections, for eternal life. " —Josée Boileau, Journal de Montréal