Cures for Hungerby Deni Ellis Bechard
“As the motor’s vibrations cradled me, I tried to envision my life. I saw the red lines of highways on the map, stretched between cities like threads of torn cloth. I imagined a book that could hold it all together, plains and mountain ranges, dust-drab towns beyond interstates, and somewhere on the far edges, the valley in British Columbia and those
“As the motor’s vibrations cradled me, I tried to envision my life. I saw the red lines of highways on the map, stretched between cities like threads of torn cloth. I imagined a book that could hold it all together, plains and mountain ranges, dust-drab towns beyond interstates, and somewhere on the far edges, the valley in British Columbia and those nights in Virginia when I snuck out and stalked the highway, trying to fathom where I belonged on this threadbare continent.”
As a child, Deni Béchard has no idea his family is unusual. His mother is from Pittsburgh and there is a vague sense that his father is from Quebec, but when Deni is assigned to complete a family tree in school, he begins to wonder why he doesn’t know more about his father’s side of the family. Who is André Béchard, and why do the police seem so interested in him?
Soon after Deni’s mother leaves his father and decamps with her three children to Virginia, Deni learns that André was once a bank robber, a revelation that sets his imagination on fire. Boyish rebelliousness soon gives way to fantasies of a life of crime. At once attracted and repelled, Deni can’t escape the sense that his father’s life holds the key to understanding himself, and to making sense of his own passions and longings. Only when he goes off to college does Deni begin to unravel the story of his father’s life, eventually returning with it to the Quebecois family that André had fled long ago.
At once an extraordinary family story and a highly unconventional portrait of the artist as a young man, Cures for Hunger is a deeply affecting memoir, by one of the most acclaimed young writers in the world today.
Deni Y. Béchard was born in British Columbia and raised in Canada and the United States. His articles, stories, and translations have appeared in a number of magazines and newspapers. His first novel, Vandal Love, won the 2007 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. He lives in New York City.
"A complex tale, full of bittersweet encounters, rage, love, and sorrow." Alexander Varty, straight.com
Best book to bring on a soul-searching solo trip: "Beautifully written memoir." thetyree.ca
"Ragged and rough on the surface, tender and aching underneath, Bouchard's writing style reflects what may be the real subject of this memoir; his own youthful bravado." Barbara Black, Montreal Gazette
"A spare, raw, haunting memoir about living in the shadow of an enigmatic man. . . . Deni Y. Béchard is a writer to watch." Booklist Online
"Béchard's whiplashing sentences have an intimacy. . . . Clever, superbly paced and crafted, sincere and very affecting." Martyn Bryant, Roverarts.com
"Béchard's memoir is alternately funny and poignant, with a meditative, leisurely pace. . . . embedded with insights. The complexities of hunger are the core of this story. Hunger is not simply a clawing emptiness in the belly: It is the yearning "for truth, for love, for a single thing that we can trust" it is "the perfect pleasure of wanting." . . . Ultimately for Béchard, writing is freedom and Cures for Hunger is both a journey and a coming home." Ami Sands Brodoff, Montreal Review of Books
"A coming of age story with rare and loving insights into the vulnerable hearts of men and boys and the women that help shape them." The Huffington Post
"A poignant but rigorously unsentimental account of hard-won maturity." Kirkus Reviews
"Cures for Hunger illustrates the ways in which storytelling can act as a means of self-discovery . . . much more than a memoir of youthful misadventure, though it contains plenty of that. It's also an exploration of the oppression of lineage, of familial duty, wanderlust, and perennial dissatisfaction, and the most American theme of them all: personal reinvention." The Iowa Review
"Béchard powerfully evokes the ever-present tension between the author and his parents . . . as well as his own struggle to emulate and escape his father . . . Béchard's story is also one of personal discovery, and a teasing out of the function of memory: what it keeps, what it loses, and what it saves." Publishers Weekly
"Cures for Hunger is a poignant adventure story with a mystery . . . But it is also, perhaps even more so, the story of an artist coming of age. Readers will be reminded of James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man." The Plain Dealer
A Best Book of the Year So Far and Best Biography/Memoir of the Year So Far Amazon.ca
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Meet the Author
Deni Y. Béchard was born in British Columbia to a loving and health-conscious American mother and a French-Canadian father with a penchant for crime and storytelling. He grew up in primarily in B.C. and Virginia, but an insatiable drive for travel and experience led him to roam widely across North America. Cures for Hunger focuses on the experiences and effects of his nomadic childhood.
Béchard’s first novel, Vandal Love, (Doubleday Canada, 2006) won the 2007 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for the best first book in the entire British Commonwealth. He has been a fellow at MacDowell, Jentel, the Edward Albee Foundation, Ledig House, the Anderson Center, and the Vermont Studio Center, among others. His articles, stories and translations have appeared in a number of magazines and newspapers, among them the National Post, the Harvard Review and the Harvard Divinity Bulletin. He has reported from Iraq and Afghanistan, among other places, and has lived in over thirty countries. When not traveling, he divides his time between Tokyo, Cambridge, and Montréal. Cures for Hunger and Vandal Love are his firstand simultaneousbook-length publications in the United States.
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