At the book fair in Rimouski, a woman picked up my first book to read the back cover. She put it back down, avoiding my eyes. It’s heavy, cancer and death and all that. I wish books were more interactive. Like video game controllers. They could vibrate at the end of each chapter. But that’s not how life works. I wonder what death is like. Do you vibrate? Do the words GAME OVER appear?
In 2012, Vickie Gendreau was diagnosed with a brain tumour and wrote a book narrating her own death. Testament could have been Gendreau’s first and only novel, but she kept writing, furiously, until the very end.
Published posthumously after Gendreau’s death in 2013 at age 24, Drama Queens continues her exploration of illness and death that began in Testament, but with even greater urgency and audacity. In her singular voice, Gendreau mixes genres and forms, moving from art installations to fantastical little films to poetry, returning again and again to a deeply raw and unflinching narrative of her increasingly difficult days.
With rage, dark humour, and boundless spirit and imagination, Drama Queens, translated by Aimee Wall, records the daily life of a young woman living with a failing body, the end in sight, and still so much to say.