In the tradition of Borges, Nabakov, and Bolaño, The Red Album is a work of fiction that questions historical authenticity and authority. Divided into two parts, the book begins with an edited and footnoted narrative of dubious origins. In the second part, a section of “documents” (including essays, memoirs, a short play and a filmography) shed light on the first narrative. Familiar characters are revealed to be writers, and the writer and editors of the initial narrative are revealed to be characters. As the ghosts of social revolutions of the past are lifted from the soil in Catalonia, and a new revolution unfolds in South America, the number of mysteriously missing author/characters grows almost as fast as new author/characters emerge and complicate and scatter the threads of the story.
Praise for The Red Album:
“In The Red Album, the scene of Spain and the fragile legacy of a poet occasion a series of astonishing entries into the archives and affects of revolution. Stephen Collis turns sharply away from ‘the department of historical memory,’ exploring, instead, those alternative theatres of language and social struggle within which the past may be recovered and critically animated. This is a moving and also a challenging book, precisely because it confronts this enduring imperative: We must see again what ways we can be together.” —David Chariandy
Praise for Stephen Collis:
“Words like beauty, pleasure, and liberty do not sound hackneyed. Instead, their writing sounds synonymous with persistence. Collis is slightly off-step/beat, just out of range of any comfortable assumption, and a good shuffle away from clear understanding. This is not [writing] that leads, but includes. It is a welcome philosophical divergence in popular culture.” —Prairie Fire Review of Books
“[A] thought provoking challenge of the possibility of finding the truth in our histories.” —The Winnipeg Review
“The Red Album… a text about fissures, knowledge, and structures—offers itself as another bridge, an opportunity to think about other realities, and new possibilities within the gaps.” —Lemon Hound
Stephen Collis speaks with Andrew Zuliani —Lemon Hound
On genre and the writing process —Open Book Toronto
Stephen Collis is an award-winning poet, activist, and professor of contemporary literature at Simon Fraser University. His poetry books include Anarchive (2005), The Commons (2008), On the Material (2010, awarded the BC Book Prize for Poetry), and the forthcoming To the Barricades (2013). He has also written two books of criticism, including Phyllis Webb and the Common Good (2007). His collection of essays on the Occupy movement, Dispatches from the Occupation (2012), comes out of his activist experiences and is a philosophical meditation on activist tactics, social movements, and change. A Jack and Doris Shadbolt Fellow at Simon Fraser University in 2011/12, Collis has read and lectured across Canada, the United States, and Europe. The Red Album is his first novel.