Voix Paralleles (Parallel Voices)

by Andre Carpentier, Matt Cohen
249 pages,
ISBN: 2892610761

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Brief Reviews
by David Homel

ONEOF THOSE rare bilingual/biculturalexperiments that produce not just goodwill, but good results as well, ParallelVoices/Voix paralleles (Quarry/XYZ editeur, 249 pages, $23.95 paper) is acollection of English-Canadian and quebecois writers of shortfiction, paired together, who read and translate each other. Sounds like aproject hatched in a barroom, right? Indeed, it was, as the editors Matt Cohenand Andre Carpentier happily admit in their introduction. Perhaps that`s whythe project is a success. There are 18 writers, and they seem tohave been paired off in random fashion. We have the sharp-edged, hip fictionsof Greg Hollingshead matched with the overwrought, overcareful constructions ofDaniel Gagnon. The highly self-conscious accounts of the battle of the sexespenned by Diane Schoemperlen are rendered by Helene Rioux, whose work tends tobe introverted or, as they say in French in a nicer sort of way, intimiste -intimist.(Perhaps that`s a word we can launch in English.) One thing`s for certain:these writers are, in general, quite good translators. I`d like to encouragethem all Margaret Atwood, Thomas King, George Bowering. et al. - to continuetheir budding careers as literary translators from French to English. Yourbrothers and sisters writing in French in Quebec could use you. Parallel Voices alsointroduces English Canada to newer French Quebec writers such as MoniqueProuIx, Andre Carpentier, Louise Dupre - hardly household names in Canada, evenin a literary household, unlike Anne Hebert Marie-Claire Blais, Michel Tremblay, and all the other quebecoisclassics.Maybe it`s time to make some room on our classics shelf, and Parallel VoiceslVoix paralleles willhelp us make a more educated choice about what to put there.

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