Criticism | The Death of a Convenience Store Clerk: A Wave to the Soul ★★★

The narrator of The death of a convenience store clerk is stutterer, broke and deeply disillusioned. While he decides to resign from a job in which he “no longer has faith”, he moves about a hundred kilometers from where he was to flee a debt collector who follows him and finds himself, a little by chance, hired as a clerk in the convenience store of Mr. and Mrs. Song, a somewhat dilapidated place dotted with motley objects.

This narrator drags his wave to the soul without really knowing what to do with it, tries to hide the obvious emptiness of his existence in the ephemeral pleasures of the flesh by accumulating ephemeral conquests, posing on life and things his gaze to at the same time lucid, bored and devoid of any hope of salvation. What to do when the horizon does not lead to anything? Trying to be carried away, without thinking too much, by walking for hours, repetitive movements, the comings and goings of customers and the observation of the colorful local fauna, which his new job offers him on a set of silver.

“It’s still a funny job, convenience store clerk. You spend half your time looking at people who don’t know what they want. […] This possibility of choosing between filth and filth opens up a little derisory and petty freedom, a breach into which their boredom is engulfed. ”

The death of a convenience store clerk comes in the form of a long interior monologue. There is very little dialogue, and never a word spoken by the character, which creates a contrast between his inner logorrhea and his stuttering making communication more difficult. There is in the writing of the author a poetization of the daily newspaper which passes by a black humor sometimes acerbic – “The instructions for the preparation of this popcorn constitute a lesson on the passing of time and the passion which diminishes. “. It is shot very well, and the images thus created are often surprising, even touching.

With this first novel, Jean-François Aubé, who works in the field of cinema and has already published a collection of short stories, offers a very interesting dive into the meanders of a fundamentally existentialist character who, in some respects, can recall the character of Bookseller, by Gérard Bessette, a classic of Quebec literature. Through the encounters that the character makes at the convenience store, presented as a real social microcosm, and the lives of these people, most of them marginalized, that he decides to tell so that their existence does not fall into oblivion, he He cannot help but allow a breach to open up in him that he will be able to fill less and less.

The death of a convenience store clerk
Jean-Francois Aubé
Lévesque editor
232 pages

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