Vandal Love

Deni Y. Béchard. Milkweed (PGW, dist.), $16 trade paper (341p) ISBN 978-1-57131-091-0
In this moving and entertaining debut, the Hervé family suffers from a genetic quirk—or divine malady—that results in their children growing into towering brutes or sickly runts. In mid-20th–century Quebec, the hard drinking patriarch Hervé Hervé reduces his family by lending—or simply giving away—the runts, while keeping the giants for labor. Set both in Canada and several American states, from Maine to New Mexico, and spanning more than half a century, the novel divides itself between the isolated introspective pugilist giant Jude, and François, a sociable, religious runt. Though the two Hervé brothers are very different in appearance, they both feel the need to strike out alone, creating their own families and identities in transcontinental voyages. This is both a road novel and a voyage through time, with each of the book’s two parts covering the lifetimes of several family members in an examination of the Hervé lineage. Ruminations abound on sex, violence, and the bonds between people. Though Béchard (Cures for Hunger, a memoir) has a journalism background, this fiction debut, unfolding in punchy prose, recalls Márquez with a French-Canadian twist. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/19/2012
Release date: 05/01/2012
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