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Flying Canoe

Patty Osborne

When I tried to describe the weird and wonderful book Accordéon by Kaie Kellough (ARP) to two Québécoise friends, I had to resort to reading a few excerpts because my own words failed me. How do you describe a book whose narrator may or may not be a man who rants outside a Jean Coutu drugstore in Montreal and/or an informer for the Quebec Ministry of Culture who is writing his “confession” in the form of a book that claims to contain “the most detailed known accounts of the flying canoe”? My Québécoise friends told me that the Flying Canoe (or Chasse-Galerie) comes from a Québécois folk tale about some loggers who wanted to get home to their wives for New Year’s Eve but they were snowed in, so they made a deal with the devil who agreed to fly them home in a canoe if they agreed not to fly over any church steeples or mention God’s name. From there the tale veers off in several directions, depending on which version you read or which movie you watch, much the way Accordéon wanders around Montreal (“a great North American hub of disorder”) and moves back and forth in history from Louis Riel to Marc Lépine to the Plains of Abraham and from a box of books abandoned on the sidewalk (which is likened to the canoe), to the Eaton Centre, yoga pants, the “mobilization of the global working class,” things that get lost in translation and the “restless ancestry” of Quebecers. Sidebars contain comments from the mysterious “MC” and “MC2”, the identities of whom may have become clear to me by the end of the book. Accordéon is a hilarious, mind-boggling romp of a book about Montreal and the ever-changing and unmanageable Quebec culture. Read it to your friends!

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The 19th Annual Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest

The writing contest whose name is almost as long as the entries! Deadline is May 20, 2024.

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The 19th Annual Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest

The writing contest whose name is almost as long as the entries! Deadline is May 20, 2024.