Tag Archives: Katherine Hastings

Trying to Escape from One’s Own Reality | Review of “Tatouine” by Jean-Christophe Réhel. Translated by Katherine Hastings &Peter McCambridge (2020) QC Fiction

Image linked from the publisher’s website

I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book from the publisher. Tatouine will be released in September, 2020.

We all find ourselves lost in our dreams and fantasies when the reality we exist in gives grief and heartache. We turn to the story lines of other cultural products – TV shows, movies, books, – to imagine a better existence for ourselves. In some cases that is helpful and in other it is harmful escapism. And that is the world we witness with Jean-Christophe Réhel’s unnamed character in the novel Tatouine .

“I should come up with the ideal planet, just for me. I’d call it Tatouine, almost the same as the real one, but just different enough. This planet really is my soul mate. It could be my totem. My star sign. I don’t wan to be a Taurus any longer; I want to be a Tatouine.”

There is something ‘novel’ about this slice of existence that Rehel has shown us with this character in this book. We witness him travel through hospitals, low-paying jobs, odd living arrangements, bad alcohol and even a vomit-filled Christmas celebration where he embarrasses family and friends. But in this well-phrased slice of existence, Rehel has documented a reality of the human condition, where one is dreaming is of a more noble existence but unable to climb to that reality.

“My nose starts bleeding, both nostrils at once. It’s never happened to me before. I’m dying, clearly. I pinch my nose and run out to the desk. An orderly spots me making my way down the hall and tells me I’m not allowed out. “Sir! You’re in isolation , sir!” “Yo, my nose is bleeding!” I’ve never said “yo” in my life. It sounds completely absurd; it must be the stress. I keep heading for the desk. I hear the woman shout, ‘You have to go back to your room, sir!’ I’m still pressing down hard on my nostrils, but the blood keeps coming. It’s getting everywhere. I’m leaving a trail behind me. I want to die. Where are the sharks?

There is a unique and sometimes funny take on an element of the human condition in Jean-Christophe Réhel’s novel Tatouine. It is a light read but one that is memorable. And it is certainly one of my favourites of this year.

*****

Link to QC Fiction’s website for Tatouine

The Uncertainty Of New Truths | Review of "The Electric Baths" by Jean-Michel Fortier/Translated by Katherine Hastings (To be Released July 1, 2020) QC Fiction

cover of book

I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book from the publisher.

No doubt, we have all been vaulted in a new reality. Overnight, as we go through the current crisis that has us all pushed into an era of ‘social-isolationism’ and ‘economic uncertainty.’ We all sit alone at times pondering our previous existence and wondering how our future will look. But people have been in this situation before, dealing with both the fear and the absurdity of a tense unknown that is beyond their control or understanding. Just like the citizens of the county of *** that Jean-Michel Fortier documents in the novel The Electric Baths.

Long, white, jagged flashes of lightning zigzagged in the sky. At Spencer Wood, Sarah Rosenberg couldn’t sleep, terrorized by the lightning and rain, a troubling combination that evoked in her mind all the bizarreness of the electric baths, of what was slumbering two storeys below, beneath her feet, and that would perhaps awake, would certainly awake, if the thunder rumbled any louder.

Fortier has written an interesting read here. The citizens of this community are dealing with an uncanny series of events and emotions that are puzzling and in many cases hard to define. In the midst of this confusion, there is the return of Louise Beurre – or “Louisa Louis” as she was called on stage. After 13 years abroad, she has come back with stories of stages and spotlights and lost loves. But no one is eager to listen or believe her.

This is a book that should not be rushed through. There are subtle situations and play-on words that provide with brilliant “a-ha” moments to readers who are interested in the human condition and – even more – human thoughts and the human mind. A complex read yet one that is unique.

But, most of all Jean-Michel Fortier’s The Electric Baths, is certainly one read for our times.

*****

Link to QC Fiction’s webpage for The Electric Baths