This is one of my favorite novels.I believe it to be one of the finest novels on my shelves.It's a novel written in prose as dense as the old streets and alleys of Montreal in which it takes place.Made up of a single paragraph, it not only looks Beckettian but also carries some of his ways of seeing.To be deaf to the city is to be unsympathetic and unbending to the harsh realities of the city these characters face.The narrative is spun from the stream of consciousness of those characters.Each is dying incrementally in some way, physically or spiritually, and each is engaged in a struggle against it or are at least facing it boldly.Their lives are challenging.There is no forward movement, Gloria says, because life is reduced to endless repetition.She also calls the city an urban desert.
However, even if its message is that dark, a novel about the failures of life set against the victory of death, even if its shape on the page looks formidable, its prose is so musical and fluid in the mind that it's joyfully easy to read, making it that much easier to find, in the midst of that despair, the sputtering fuse of hope.These are the marginal streets of Montreal, filled with clamor and seamy commerce.Yet each character is guided in some way by a vision held up against the full stop of death.
Despite the heaviness I love it.Whenever I read it my antennae quiver with the sense I'm in the presence of something special.And I become lost in the music of Blais's prose.Deaf to the City may be a book about death but its rhythms carry the triumph of the trumpet.
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