cover image Readopolis


Bertrand Laverdure, trans. from the French by Oana Avasilichioaei. BookThug (SPD, U.S. dist.; LPG, Canadian dist.), $20 trade paper (264p) ISBN 978-1-77166-298-7

Laverdure (Lectodôme) centers this extremely funny novel on Ghislain, a poorly paid reader for a publishing house, who’s working at a Montreal dépanneur (convenience store) to “honour his obligations as a tenant and [his] small pleasures as a cultural consumer.” He feels superior to most writers he has to read but admires anyone who can finish writing a book. Books—reading and thinking about reading—are his life; Readopolis is an imaginary state (in both senses of the word) that he enters through reading and through connections with other readers. The novel contains multitudes: ongoing dialogues between different characters, ranging from the banal to the intensely philosophical; a fictional parrot that crashes the plot; reflections on the pyramid scheme of the contemporary education industry; a plethora of literary and cultural references; and illuminating meditative analyses on convenience stores as object lessons in consumer capitalism. This is a book for book lovers, particularly anyone who feels a flare of recognition when Ghislain, asked why he continues to slog his guts out in the arts world when he is “only symbolically remunerated,” answers thus: “I’m stubborn.... People feel less sorry for me when I tell them, ‘I’m not rich, but at least I work in my field.’ ” (May)