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Book Who's Talking...Denis Theriault

Wednesday 26th Nov 2014

Danielle Culling

Book Who's Talking...Denis Theriault

Any Mr B's regular who has come into our enclave over the last couple of months will no doubt have had the experience of me bounding over, arms outstretched with book in hand, insisting "You simply must read this!". I happened upon 'The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman' a few months before it was released. Blessed are the booksellers as they shall receive proofs and previews. One lunchtime the unthinkable had happened and I was without reading material (well, 'without reading material' is a bit of a stretch, my 'to read' mountain at home is becoming a genuine hazard. I was about to head to the park from work and there was not a book nestled in my bag (a bag without a book, I KNOW!)) So to the pile of proofs I wandered. My attention was caught by a slim volume with stunningly simple art work. Off I trotted to a quiet corner of greenery, away from the students with less quiet lunchtime pursuits, opened the pages and OOH before I even knew what had happened my lunch hour had somehow turned into a lunch hour and a half (sshhhhh, don't tell Mr B!).

 

The story of our protagonist, Bilodo, captivated me immediately in both its beauty and its darkness. I find it hard to think of a reader who would not find something to take from this tale. We quickly asked if he would join in our interview series so we could see what has inspired him when it comes to his own reading. 

As usual at the bottom of the interview we will have a link to all of the books he has mentioned. You will find 'The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman' nestled amongst our favourites of the year in the Christmas Catalogue, which means it is a bargain with 10% off. 

 

 

 

1)     If you were to be stuck in a lift for three hours with any character from literature, who would it be?

 

I first thought of Scheherazade, whose talent for storytelling could certainly help to kill time. But after further consideration, I would prefer it to be Alice (from Wonderland) for two good reasons: firstly, I was in love with her when I was a kid; secondly, she is really good at getting herself out of weird places and confined areas.

 

2)     What was the last book the produced an outpouring of emotion in you? A snort of laughter or tears into a handkerchief?

 

Some books made me laugh, some made me cry. Some others, much rarer, made me oscillate between the two emotions, like A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving. This novel is one of the funniest and at the same time one of the most moving that I have read.

 

3)      Which book do you really wish you had written?

 

Perfume, by Patrick Süskind. A masterpiece in my opinion.

 

 

4)      Which book did you make your parents read and re-read to you when you were younger?

 

Tintin - any of them. Every morning when I was a kid, my mother read me a few pages of Tintin. This is how I learned to read before going to school. Even today, Tintin in Tibet, Hergé's most poetic work, remains in my view a model of well constructed fiction narrative.

 

 

5)      What one passage from any book you have read has always stuck with you and why?

 

It is a passage from the novel The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, by Yukio Mishima. In this passage, the protagonist, Mizoguchi, spies on a young woman as she presses her bare breast to extract a little breast milk that she then pour into her lover's tea without his knowing. Why does this passage haunt me? I do not know. Perhaps because of the strange erotic poetry that emerges from it? Still, this passage has stuck with me for years. I cannot help referring to it in my own novels. Which indeed is the case in The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman, at the beginning of Chapter 9…

 

 

6)      What is the current read on your bedside table?

 

I always have several books on my bedside table. I am presently reading Winston and Clementine: the Personal Letters of the Churchills, and will soon begin The Circle, by Dave Eggers. Then my next read after that will be Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt.

 

7)      We know you are not meant to judge a book by its cover but we all do, so confess…tell us which book you read purely down to aesthetics, and did it live up to expectations?

 

I was maybe eight years old. There was only one bookshop in the small mining town where I was born, and I liked to enter that mysterious little shop full of books. One day, I came across a novel on the cover of which was depicted a huge shark opening its mouth as if about to devour me. It was a big 800-page book - a real reading challenge for the kid I was, and it was expensive too - about 3$, a fortune to me at the time. But I bought it anyway because of this picture on the cover that fascinated me. 

And it proved a fantastic reading experience!

As if I were myself a shark, I devoured the book in just a few days and nights. Its author was Jules Verne, and the title was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It made me a passionate young reader, and probably sparked my future vocation as a writer.

 

8)      You meet a person who is not a reader at all but they’re prepared to give it a go with your ONE suggestion….what book do you press into their hands?

 

I would see it as a big responsibility. After hesitating between a dozen titles of short novels, I think the book I would put into the hands of this potential reader would be The Old Man Who Read Love Stories, by Luis Sepulveda.

 

 

Thank you to Denis, some fantastic choices to explore! If these have inspired you with some further reading click here for our Very Important Book List! 

Book Who's Talking...Denis Theriault

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