A friend told me recently that women who write write like they are weaving and men who write write like they are having sex. Women bring together strands of things, she said, and connect them. Men focus relentlessly on a particular end, with an urgency and a driving forward that you don’t see in women’s writing. Most of the story of Yesterday, at the Hotel Clarendon by Nicole Brossard, translated by Susanne de Lotbinière-Harwood (Coach House), unfolds with notable urgency at a downtown bar. It’s as though everything that isn’t movement has been omitted and what’s left is just enough flesh to hold the bones together. “While others march gaily toward madness in order to stay alive in a sterile world, I strive for preservation.” A sense of striving is present throughout the novel, and Brossard uses short sentences to maintain high tension. Her characters are complex and intelligent. They invite you into their complexity and you want to set up camp.