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Brief Reviews
by Chris Scott

USUALLY it`s the angels that do the exterminating; in Gerald Godin`s The Exterminated Angel (Guernica, 128 pages, $12 paper), translated from the French by Judith Cowan, the angel is exterminated - by a car bomb. This sardonic flashback to Montreal in the 1970s is populated by amiable grotesques such as Wolfred Milton, the tobacconist-turneddrug-kingpin, "a hugely fat man so obese they would use him for testing the weighscales for the big trucks before the thaw." Milton blends tobacco for the journalist Gerry Gretz. When a car bomb blows up in Mount Royal, shredding the occupant of a latemodel Pontiac, everybody thinks the occupant is a male and the culprit is the FLQ - until Gretz investigates and his tobacconist is electrocuted. Godin, himself a journalist and former Pequiste cabinet minister, casts a jaded eye over the life of a scribbler. Gretz`s days are filled with newsroom politics and a diet of cold pizza and comic sex. Cops are mouthy, robbers clumsy, politicians venal, and all have reached their level of incompetence. Sometimes the humour pales: Gretz hangs out in a restaurant called the Lesbos ("where you never saw anything but men"), presided over by a Greek called Clitorides. In curiously stilted English, the blurb proclaims the novel to be "written in the tradition of the American thriller with a journalist whom Humphrey Bogart would like to have played as the protagonist." Woody Allen, more like; The Maltese Falcon this ain`t, though Cowan`s translation of L`ange extermine (first published by Les editions de I`Hexagone in 1990), does lend the text a certain verve.

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