Intimate Stranger: New Stories from Quebec

Matt Cohen, Editor, Wayne Grady, Editor Penguin Books $6.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-14-007958-6
This collection of recent French-Canadian short stories, most of which were translated by the editors, starts with a frappe de force: Monique Proulx's ""Feint of Heart,'' which chronicles the love affair of Francoise and Benoit. They are 30ish, leftists, ``misguided perfectionists who, in the name of Independence, complicate their lives beyond belief.'' When the two meet, they find bliss, but from the start they fear their mutual dependence and creeping ``petit bourgeois happiness.'' Thus, on principle, they go out with other people and arbitrarily don't see each other for long periods, even though they become miserable as a result. The struggle between their hearts and minds continues for years and ends on a touching, fated note. Narrated in an appropriately mocking, jesting tone, this tale stands out above the rest of the stories in the collection. The others, including Jean-Yves Soucy's ``Red Boots,'' a tale of a man's fatal obsession with shoes, and Diane-Monique Daviau's ``Under the Bell Jar,'' about a woman who lives with a man absorbed in archaic subjects, seem pale and listless by comparison. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1987
Release date: 05/01/1987
Genre: Fiction
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