Glimpses of Beauty Among the Strife | Review of “A Difficult Beauty” by David Groulx (2011) Wolsak And Wynn


Life is a series of contrasts: light and. ark, air  and water, dirty and clean, beauty and ugliness. And just how far apart are those contrasts in some people’s lives makes for a surprising observation sometimes. That is what David Groulx has done in his book A Difficult Beauty.

Half (page 56)

I run around the shack

stating to my mother

half of me is Indian and half of me

is French

it’s straight down the middle

half of me is white

half of me is brown

I tell her Spock is a half-breed too

half Vulcan

half human

I tell her Jesus is a half-breed too

half God

half human

he’s mixed up inside

like me

Groulx has an brilliant writing style. He is able to set a scene in a reader’s mind with clear words. Most of the scenes are uncomfortable, which is meant to show us the reality that he and most of his people are in.

Elliot Lake (Excerpt page 31)

Does anyone remember this place?

Does anyone remember what this place was

like before it withered away and died like my old man?


Does anyone remember the beer and the blood

dripping off the wooden bar,

the dirty cops and passers through


Does anyone remember this place

before the Tories moved in

planted flower gardens and picked up dog shit

and kept the money on Bay Street

they bought the miners’ houses for

sweet fuck all

and we all fucked off with our families

we’d raised on Steve Roman’s luck and fed

every parasite mayor

and Lester Pearson with our flesh


Does anyone remember this place

we built with our hands

and paid for with our lives

before the sun was up

we dug our graves and

climbed out after it went down

like vampires but we were men?

Groulx documents a sadness in people’s lives that needs to be documented. It is a personal sadness that isn’t documented in other forms of media but Groulx shows us that the realm exists for him and the people around him.

My Neighbour (Page 22)

The cops were here


took George’s five kids away

I saw George in the window

waving goodbye to his children


his 400-pound frame

looked like rain


it’s quiet and dark

there now

and sometimes

I can hear George weeping

It takes a bit of reading and re-reading to see the contrasts Groulx sometimes talks about, and that is the beauty of his words. Yes the scene is sad, but it exists, and this is how he is going to explain it to his reader.

Passing By Your Place (Page 20)

Indians live there

with boarded up windows

and mattresses on the floor


its always dark and quiet

and the cops visit every once in a while


the landlord drops by on welfare day

brings in some industrial lacquer

he stole from the mill he works at


gives it to the Indians


he makes more money this way


on the day they

will carry your body

out of there Jimdadoikwe


and I will be quiet and dark

while the smell

of lacquer

sinks into the walls.

While life is filled with contrasts for many of us, Groulx has brilliantly described all the points between those contrasts well. He has described a reality for many of us that needs to be described and which other forms of communication have failed to tell us about.

Wolsak and Wynn’s page for “A Difficult Beauty”







2 thoughts on “Glimpses of Beauty Among the Strife | Review of “A Difficult Beauty” by David Groulx (2011) Wolsak And Wynn

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