Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Stories Told by Children: Lullabies for Little Criminals and Lignes de faille

The Atwater Book Club and the Causeries littéraires d’Outremont begin again this week, after a hiatus for the month of January. The first month of the year is a good one for reading, but given the uncertain weather, it is not a good one to get people out in the evening to talk books. But February—well, February is a month of cold and ice, but also the days are growing perceptibly longer and I’ve found folks welcome a chance to do something.

So last night in Outremont we talked about Nancy Huston’s Fault Lines, or Lignes de faille, as it is called in her original French version. The book won the Prix Femina in 2006, but only found English language publishers last year because of the snotty comments of one of the book’s narrators, Sol, with which Huston begins the telling of her tale. It is told in four voices, each of a child of six, and goes from the present (2004) to the past, until several mysteries, personal as well as historical, are uncovered.

The book for tonight at Atwater also has a precocious child as a narrator. Baby in Heather O’Neil’s Lullabies for Little Criminals speaks in a voice that seems to me at least more authentic than those of Huston’s characters. The story she has to tell is just as harrowing, but not at all overtly political.

Both books are excellent reading, and make one reflect about the innocence of childhood. How much we know when we aren't supposed to know!

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