Cures for Hunger: A Memoir

Deni Y. B%C3%A9chard. Milkweed (PGW, dist.), $24 (338p) ISBN 978-1-57131-331-7
In the opening pages of Béchard's memoir, we learn that his duplicitous, bank-robbing father, André—to whom the bulk of the book is devoted—committed suicide "in a house empty but for a single chair…on the outskirts of Vancouver." Begun just three months after his father's death, Béchard's story is the result of "seventeen years of rewriting," and the process shows in the prose, which vacillates between that of a pretentious, if talented, young writer, and an adult whose understanding of his troubled youth has been refined by years of reflection and searching. Nevertheless, Béchard powerfully evokes the ever-present tension between the author and his parents ("Our family always seemed on the verge of disaster, and then the danger passed, and very little changed."), as well as his own struggle to emulate and escape his father. At once a quest to uncover the details of André's life—including his real name (Edwin), the town in Quebec from whence he came and the family he left there, and a criminal record that led one of André's sisters to remark, "‘Il ne faisait rien à moitié.'—He didn't do anything halfway."—Béchard's story is also one of personal discovery, and a teasing out of the function of memory: what it keeps, what it loses, and what it saves. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/28/2012
Release date: 05/01/2012
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