You & Your Bright Ideas: New Montreal Writing edited by Andy Brown and Rob McLennan (Véhicule), 162 pages, $16.95 paper.
montreal's anglophone liter-ary world is a cultural island distinct from the rest of Canada. At least that's the theory behind You & Your Bright Ideas, a new collection of gritty urban fiction. Confident to the point of arrogance, the editors brag in the back-cover blurb that the scene has become a source of envy outside the city.While that's obviously an overstatement, the writing in this collection is strong, and many of the writers are diamonds in the rough who've been too often critically ignored or misunderstood.
The book's underground sensibility comes as no great surprise considering the impressive list of spoken-word performers (Ian Ferrier, Catherine Kidd and Corey Frost), comix artists (Billy Mavreas, Yvette Poorter and Meg Sircom) and zinesters (Valerie Joy Kalynchuk, Andy Brown and Rob McLennan) who crawled out of Ste. Catherine's smoky cafes to grace its pages.
Comical Jonathan Goldstein coughs up a frantic, fractured little story called May West about his mom, a roller-skating paraplegic who wants to get laid. Small-press darling Lydia Eugene offers The Floor Man, a revealing portrait of a dysfunctional family. Sensualist Tess Fragoulis fictionalizes the lives of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre in An Endless Existence and transplants them from pompous Paris to malheureux Montreal. Artsy Brown adds a photo essay that details how to build a stone wall, and Mavreas's four-page comic strip comments on the meaning of life.
These are tales of a constant quest for uniqueness -- ordinary people searching for fulfilling lives, drones seeking individuality. Adhering to the hypothesis that art on the fringe eventually makes it to the mainstream, I'd say that if you have any doubts about the future of CanLit you should read this book.EMILY POHL-WEARY
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