Three-Rivers — The writer Dany Laferrière was on a visit to the Bookstore Poirier of Trois-Rivières on Monday to meet his fans and speak about his latest book: self-Portrait in Paris with a cat.
It is a book quite out of the ordinary, unclassifiable, in which the academician is book to a new exercise: the drawing as a form of expression. In fact, it is two years new, because at the drawing, he adds the writing by hand, a practice more difficult than it seems when the habit has been lost in favour of keyboards.
We can already wonder where does the need to address a new mode of expression when there is already a reference in a first. “I was tired, answers the writer. I realized that when I drew, it rested me. And to draw a long time, it takes a project then I said to myself: why not a book?”
Remained the question of the topic. “I wanted to reply to the question, to which I always answer: where am I? However, I was in Paris, in the Xe arrondissement, near the gare de l’est. As I like knowing what surrounds me, I looked out the window and I saw that down below, in the street, were distributed to the soup kitchen. I have expanded my observation to the area where I live and as Paris discovers the small area by small area, I said to myself that this city is not the portrait of a daily life, but also a great literary creation. Images of great writers came to mind: Borges, Malraux, Villon…”
The book is a collection of reflections, stories, colors, ideas, sometimes crazy, sometimes well-documented. It is a journey into a city like in the head of an artist, both populated by ghosts, of friends, of friendships, of laughter. All of this translates to the course naive and disorderly a mind is liberated from many constraints which we understand that if we accept them most of the time, they are not as inevitable constraints.
Thus, we can very well appear in a book, a cat without ears or tail, a cat who does not like milk. A cat who disappears whenever he appears and reappears without warning to a different place and time. A cat who does not obey anything or anybody. We can.
Self-portrait in Paris with a cat might appear such as a foot of nose to the venerable Académie française. “Rather, it is a foot of nose to the idea of the Academy, corrects Laferrière. This idea is false, because I meet people 90 years of age who are extraordinarily free. It speaks to me about this book as my first book of academician but no! I don’t have a real status that justifies a book. It is always the reader who decides by his interest in the reading of the legitimacy of a book.”
Beyond form completely atypical of the book, the writer part of the natural continuity of his work. “I always talk about the same thing: the daily life, the writers. This is new, it is Paris that I’ve never talked about it in what I would call pulsating. I’m also speaking of travel, another recurring theme only, here, this is not the narrator who travels but figures such as Malraux or Breton who leave Paris for other places. Paris is not defined by the people that she receives but also by those that this town exports. When Malraux goes to see the primitive artists of Haiti, it is still Paris a certain way because it feeds into the artistic effervescence of the city.”
Dany Laferrière claims that he would not have been able to do a similar book on Montreal because he lives in it for forty years. Because he is from Montreal. “I have done other types of books on Montreal. All that we do, will tell you not Mongo was a love letter to Montreal. But, being from there, my look is less outside, less intimate. I don’t do a lot of books on Montreal, but I do a lot in Montreal.”
When one is a writer widely read and equally celebrated, what need is there of a whole new set of challenges as that of drawing a book so that it knows do not know how to draw? “If this is to constantly re-doing what I already know to do, it’s not worth the trouble of creating, argues the academician. I don’t want to get bored in the item art is there for that purpose, the imbalance. I wouldn’t go so far as to speak of danger, but it must be that the heart beats more quickly at certain times.”
“Critics say that it is my book, the more personal but let’s be honest: they have said for nearly all of my books. This was the case for The enigma of the return, for The diary of a writer in pajamas, for I am a japanese writer. In fact, I believe that it is the whole which gives a more accurate idea of me. This is my thirtieth. Even my books for children say things to me. In appearance, in the way, this last one looks different from the other but in the end, in the material, it is a bit of a return of the same obsessions, but voiced completely differently. I didn’t know to draw, I draw; I didn’t hand write, I write by hand.”
This trip started because he was tired was back in touch with its enthusiasm, its force for better return, he believes, to what he was doing before. “I was tired of myself, up to a certain point, but today, I can allow myself to return to myself, to the database. We can’t leave for too long.”
“What I discovered, is the happiness, the physical joy that I have to draw, coloring.
– It is so, in sum, a book on happiness?
– Thank you! Finally I hear the word: this is a book on happiness!”