“This is it. Here. Right now.”
Michael Blouin’s dream of happiness
Michael Blouin is one of BookThug’s two Fall fiction authors, whose book I Don’t Know How to Behave is labeled simply “A Fiction,” landing, as it does, in some happy grey area between a novel and poetry. It’s not poetry, though. It’s a compelling narrative driven by diverse voices and comprising a handful of truth for every fistful of fiction.
her life weighs twenty-eight years, seven months, three days, fourteen hours and this minute, which feels particularly
The book combines the true story of Canadian daredevil and stunt driver Ken Carter (1938-1983) with imagined biographical elements from the lives of Canadian film director Bruce McDonald and Canadian poet Gillian Sze. Along the way, this quintessential Canadian story crashes head first into many related things, from screenplay theory to hip hop history to the story of early Canadian film to drawings to photographs to bank robberies to chaos theory to technical specs for Detroit muscle cars to re-imagined movies to imagined documentary to advertisements to newspaper interviews to instructions for making Molotov cocktails.
She told me to get in the car. She didn’t tell me where we were going. And we never got there.
Open Book Toronto recently invited Michael Blouin to respond to their Proust questionnaire (not invented by Marcel Proust, but it was a much loved game by the French author and many of his contemporaries. The idea behind the questionnaire is that the answers are supposed to reveal the respondent’s “true” nature.) Blouin’s short answers were frustrating in that they were difficult to pull and provide out of context for buzz purposes, but—like the crisp, minimalist writing in I Don’t Know How to Behave—his brevity was effective and compelling. Open Book tells us that the idea behind the questionnaire is that the answers are supposed to reveal the respondent’s “true” nature—my favourite question/answer duo was the final question: “What is your motto?”
“‘Know who you owe.’ It’s tattooed on my arm. Yes, I know it should be ‘whom.’
Nobody tattoos ‘whom’ on their arm.
Well, I don’t.”
In addition to having “Know who you owe” tattooed on his arm, Blouin is critically acclaimed and pretty well versed in award-winning: he is a ReLit Award winning author for Best Novel in Canada, has been shortlisted for the Amazon First Novel Award, the bpNichol Award and the CBC Literary Award and is a winner of the Diana Brebner Award and the 2012 Lampman Award. he has been published in most Canadian literary magazines including Arc, Descant, Branch, Dragnet, The Antigonish Review, Event, Queens Quarterly, and Fiddlehead, and has served as an adjudicator for The Ontario Arts Council, the Ottawa Book Awards, Carleton University, and This Magazine.
Michael Blouin will be appearing at the Ottawa International Writers Festival on Saturday, October 26th, at 5 p.m. at the Manx Café with Sandra Ridley and André Alexis.
Praise for I Don’t Know How to Behave
“A book that evolves our understanding of what a novel can do.”
“Stabbingly lyrical misconduct, ingenious mythmaking: Blouin’s wonderful novel is a sexy stagger-step toward a new way of thinking about, of carving up, truth and beauty that will tractor-beam you instantly onto a fast, wild mofo-ship.”
“th anguish n th disconnects th thrill uv trying 2 car soar ovr a rivr n th manee forms uv love n th word okay n joy whats bin passd 2 us what we pass on the adventur mike blouin has writtn a brilliant book”