With "Augustino and the Choir of Destruction, " literary legend Marie-Clair Blais concludes her famed trilogy set on an island in the Gulf of Mexico. Written in her trademark style, which includes surreal surprises and idiosyncratic characters, this book presents a rich tapestry of humankind: Our Lady of the Bags, announcing the end of the world; Charles, a great poet cut down by AIDS; and Caroline, a transvestite Cinderella and artist. Most amazing -- yet typical of the imaginative power of Blais' work -- is the title ...
With "Augustino and the Choir of Destruction, " literary legend Marie-Clair Blais concludes her famed trilogy set on an island in the Gulf of Mexico. Written in her trademark style, which includes surreal surprises and idiosyncratic characters, this book presents a rich tapestry of humankind: Our Lady of the Bags, announcing the end of the world; Charles, a great poet cut down by AIDS; and Caroline, a transvestite Cinderella and artist. Most amazing -- yet typical of the imaginative power of Blais' work -- is the title character, a clairvoyant child writer who challenges the destructive forces in everyday life.
Augustino and the Choir of Destruction sings! (2nd
?Governor General?s Literary Award for Translation--2007
The Jury said:
Nigel Spencer conveys the compelling spirit of Marie-Claire Blais? dizzying prose in this fictional microcosm of our disjointed times. His translation carries the reader along through the claustrophobic whirl and conflicting relations of a phantasmagoric world.
Nigel Spencer has performed a tour de force in Augustino and the Choir of Destruction, his translation of the third volume in Marie-Claire Blais? quartet. The poignant and intricate stories of the novel?s astonishing constellation of characters are sensitively conveyed through his moving and innovative use of language. Spencer has risen to the extraordinary challenge of rendering Blais? uninterrupted stream of hallucinatory prose into an accomplished and lyrical translation.
(Four consecutive Governor General?s Literary Awards for the first four novels in this cycle, in either originals or translations)
...Augustino and the Choir of Destruction sings.
Marie-Claire Blais, one of Quebec's most prolific and celebrated writers, delivers the third volume in a prize-winning trilogy. Augustino and the Choir of Destruction is a dense and daring apocalyptic literary vision. Set on an island somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico, this [third] volume is as much an examination of moral philosophy and the consequence of inaction as it is a reflexive inquiry into the limits of language.
...Augustino and the Choir of Destruction sings.
--Sarah Steinberg: Quill & Quire
The acceleration of our lives?deftly translated by Nigel Spencer. These people do exist. On the page, however, they take on surreal dimensions, the fragments of their lives woven together through Blais? dark, magical prose.
?Pat Donnelly, The Montreal Gazette: 28/7/2007
The English version of Augustino comes courtesy of Nigel Spencer, winner of the Governor General?s Award for his translation of the second instalment in this trilogy, Thunder and Light?Spencer?s translation is true to the original, with all the characters?all of humanity?as guests at the same party, united by thought, history, and art.
?Anne Chubodiak, Montreal Review of Books
.?Consolation comes and goes without lasting, but beauty lasts, and friendship, and love. Always in Marie-Claire Blais? work there comes the certainty that we are all connected, capable of everything, the deepest love, the worst crimes, the sublimest creations, great daring and self-sacrifice, simple joy. I know of no other novelist writing today who reflects so succinctly and with such real charity, what it?s like to be human in this perturbed century. Nobody has orchestrated the passions and perplexities, the shared themes of life in quite such a way, one voice giving way to another, and another, the song continually passed on, taken up in another key. The writer herself is never glimpsed, but in her control and finesse she has all the skills of a great conductor. Readers who may be alarmed by being asked to read pages of prose with no pauses and little punctuation might be encouraged by reading it aloud, a process by which both the structure and the intense musicality of the writing may be fully enjoyed. This English translation from the original French, by Nigel Spencer, gracefully tracks the rhythms of Blais? language, no small feat given the very different structures of French and English and the swell of Blais? prose that comes and goes like the tides of the ocean itself.
?Rosalind Brackenbury, Solares Hill (Key West, Fla.)
To understand the nuances of Augustino and the Choir of Destruction, the latest novel by Quebec literary icon Marie-Claire Blais, it helps to be familiar with the works of composer Benjamin Britten, specifically his Requiem. Frequently mentioned in the text, this bleak piece of music based on the First World War poetry of Wilfred Owen and meant to underline the futility of war was a key inspiration for the work, says Blais...there's a growing sensation of being inexorably swept away - into a fragmented world where children are tuned into doomsday prophecies.
"It's a big project," Blais said, referring to all four books. "What you need to do is be very, very focused. And at the same time, very mobile, because there's movement - our times are very, very fast. This mobility, we love it. But sometimes it's very hard on us. Because we lose a lot of things. We lose friends. We lose people that we see dying on TV. We see everything and it's very, very fast and we don't have time to focus on it very much. This kind of book is about that, how to see these things. They are in very rapid movement in the book. It's the acceleration of our lives."
--Globe and Mail, Saturday, July 28, 2007.
Megan---on GOODREADS (Jul 01, 2012)
Wild. It took awhile to get a grip on what was going on but it sort of just starts to envelop you and you start recognizing things as you go along not even realizing how you knew them.
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