For some time now, Stéphane Larue had put an end to the promotional activities around his successful book The plunger in order to be able to concentrate fully on writing his next novel, a story he prefers not to reveal yet and on which he set to work after the publication of his first novel.
“I did promotion for three years for The plunger, it is huge. Of course, it’s a beat that took me away from my writing habits. I know exactly what the book I want to write is, but there’s a lot of work to be done on it. What is important is that I found the fun of writing again. ”
Inspired by real life facts and real people encountered by Larue when he became a diver in a popular restaurant in Montreal and tried to escape his gambling problems, The plunger Immediately won a huge success, which still cannot be denied, the English translation of the novel, The Dishwasher, having won Amazon Canada’s First Novel Award this summer, which comes with a pretty $ 60,000 purse. It was the first time that this prize was awarded to a translation, he says, adding that he worked closely with the translator Pablo Strauss.
The author could never have imagined, of course, such a success for his first novel. Let us underline the irony, for a former compulsive gambler, to have somehow won the literary lottery! “It’s a bit of a revenge of fate! What kept my gambling problems under control, he says, was that I rationalized the odds. The scenario of Diver, there was a 0.1% chance that it would happen. It would be irrational of me to expect the same or better from the next novel. Putting pressure on myself won’t make me make a better book! ”
The book, object of encounter, mercantile object
With The plunger, Stéphane Larue has participated in a number of book fairs and met readers from all over from various backgrounds, an experience he greatly appreciated and which prompted him to agree to indulge in the game of virtual meetings for the Salon du Montreal book.
“Lounges, often people criticize it and think it’s a mall for anything. But for many writers, it’s an opportunity to meet their readers, to meet each other, ”he remarks.
In short, there is not only the mercantile aspect in this type of event, even if one cannot ignore the fact that the book “is a mercantile object in itself”. “It is the first serial repeated object of the modern era. Henry Ford had based himself, to make his tank assembly lines, on book assembly lines, ”he tells us.
This great reader also notices how the literary community has been abundant and active for ten years and that new authors are succeeding in getting themselves published, which was far from being the case before. “There are a lot of young publishing houses who manage to give themselves visibility, there is an overproduction of fun stuff. ”
This frenetic rhythm of literary outings makes the milieu very lively, but it also ensures that certain publications will fall into oblivion or end up in piles of books which collect dust. The pandemic, he notes, had this positive that it allowed him to catch up.
“Not all bad”
For Larue, the pandemic has therefore not been all bad, even if he himself caught COVID-19 this summer. “I was in quarantine for almost 20 days, so, at the moment, I am living my third confinement, in a way”, notes the one who has worked for 20 years in restaurants – he is co-owner and bartender at Taverne Le Pélican, in the Mile End.
“Being a bartender has always allowed me to keep writing and reading at the center of my life. But there is the nightlife factor which causes the intellectual apparatus to become a bit damaged. The confinement dampened that noise and allowed me to concentrate on reading and writing. It’s a positive aspect, you have to try to see it with philosophy. ”
That said, he is aware that not everyone is experiencing the situation as well. “I realize that I am a bug who is well without a big social life, but I see people who suffer greatly. It’s a ordeal that everyone experiences differently, I try to remain as empathetic as possible. ”
It is particularly concerned about the perverse effects of the situation on the hotel sector. “We understand the merits of health measures and the issue is not to oppose one to the other, but the effects will be really marked in this sector. I fear that this will accelerate the gentrification of Montreal, with local businesses that will be replaced by others that do not have their head office here. ”
There is this injunction to reinvent oneself all the time, which we have seen a lot circulating in the cultural and restaurant world. But how can you reinvent yourself even more when your job is already a challenge in itself? We don’t have a monopoly on resilience, but a lot of people put in the effort to hold on. In the coming months, we will have to look at people’s mental health.
The consumption of alcohol and other substances is also at the heart of much discussion at this time. “Alcohol, we’ll have to stop being hypocritical, it has a therapeutic function in society,” he says. For my part, confinement has reduced my consumption, because my habits have changed with the closing of the bars, but also because I am in a positive period of my life. I have depression issues, and alcohol can make me dive back into it as well as keep me afloat. It’s a fine line, we must remain vigilant. ”
Until November 20, Stéphane Larue participates in virtual meetings of the SLM.
Small reading list for confined
Stéphane Larue is a great reader. For him, reading is absolutely conditional on writing. Since the start of the pandemic, he has read a lot and caught up. Here are four suggestions from his recent readings.