A family curse - a genetic trick resulting from centuries of hardship - causes the Hervé children to be born either giants or runts. Book One follows the giants' line, exploring Jude Hervé's career as a boxer in Georgia and Louisiana in the 1960s, his escape from that brutal life alone with his baby daughter Isa, and her eventual decision to enter into a strange, chaste marriage with a much older man. Book Two traces a different kind of life entirely, as the runts of the family discover that their power lies in a kind of unifying love. François seeks the identity of his missing father for years, while his own son, Harvey, flees from modern society into spiritual quests. But none of the Hervés can abandon their longing for a place where they might find others like themselves.
In assured and mystically powerful prose, Deni Y. Béchard tells a wide-ranging, spellbinding story of a family trying to create an identity in an unwelcoming landscape. Imbued throughout with a deep sensitivity to the physical world, Vandal Love is a breathtaking literary debut about the power of love to create and destroy - in our lives, and in our history.
Elements of Béchard's novel have a magical realist quality - the extremes of the characters' sizes, their prodigious appetites, the coincidences that bring them together. Its idiosyncratic characters and darkly strange worldview, however, will remind many readers of the gothic atmosphere of Joyce Carol Oates's novels. It's hard to believe that this skilled, often deeply moving novel is Béchard's first - readers will certainly be hoping for great things from this imaginative, original, elegantly lyrical but muscular new voice. (Reviewed by Norah Piehl).
O, The Oprah Magazine
Don't think of Vandal Love as a page-turner. It's a novel you'll want to read slowly, savoring prose that's both lyrical and gritty, able to evoke big emotions with exquisite intimacy.
A family mythos reminiscent of Faulkner.
Starred Review. Reportedly at work on a book about conservation in the Congolese rainforest, the author clearly has ambitions as big as his talent, but readers of this lyrical novel will hope he gets back to fiction soon.
Starred Review. [A] moving and entertaining debut... Though Béchard (Cures for Hunger, A Memoir) has a journalism background, this fiction debut, unfolding in punchy prose, recalls Márquez with a French-Canadian twist.
Winnipeg Free Press
Béchard's writing, at its strongest, flows in sonorous passages, evokes memorable landscapes, natural and urban, examines the enduring qualities of a family separated by both time and distance, and contains echoes of the magic realism of the South American master Gabriel García Márquez.
Although Vandal Love is a first novel, it reads as smoothly as if Béchard had a library to his name - mature, lyrical, tactile and at times simple, cruel and sweet. No doubt, the giant steps this young writer has taken will set him far ahead on his literary path.
The Globe and Mail
Deni Y. Béchard surpasses Kerouac in his consciousness of the French as part of a larger people, how their struggle is socially and politically situated rather than strictly personal... Vandal Love seems like a trans-generational On the Road, which, also infused with a kind of inherited defeatism, was the perfect Americanized expression of an unexamined Existentialism, the ultimate Beat utterance.
Although some elements of Vandal Love seem mystical or even supernatural in their origins, one significant theme of the novel is very much rooted in history. Early in the story, Hervé - Jude and François's father - expresses disgust with the mass migration of Québécois away from the country of their birth, a journey of which his own children will soon take part.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (and in particular between 1840 and the Great Depression in the 1930s), there was a major migration of French Canadians to the United States and Ontario known as "Le Grand Hémorragie" during which time approximately 900,000 residents of Québec emigrated in search of work and prosperity. This migration began in response to a lack of rural land in the Province of Québec (specifically in the Saint Lawrence...
A true masterwork of haunting and spectacular vision from one of our greatest writers, Canada is a profound novel of boundaries traversed, innocence lost and reconciled, and the mysterious and consoling bonds of family.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...