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Paul Moreaux, the thirteen-year-old son of French Canadian immigrants, inherits the ability to become invisible, but this power soon leads to death and destruction.
At first glance, the picture looked like any other in a family album of that time, the sepia shade and tone, the formal poses, the men in solemn Sunday suits and the women, severely coiffed, in long skirts and billowing blouses. It was a portrait of my father's family taken before World War I on the front steps of the house in Quebec on the banks of the Richelieu River.
The family moved to New England shortly after the picture was taken, my father along with my grandparents, my five uncles and four aunts, among them my aunt Rosanna, whom I would love all the days of my life.
I discovered the photograph when I was eight or nine years old and was told immediately of its mystery by my cousin Jules, who swore me to secrecy. I found out eventually that the mystery of the photograph was not really a secret, although it provoked various reactions among members of the family. Some dismissed the mystery not as a mystery at all, but as a failure of the camera's mechanism or the result of a childish prank. Others spoke of the mystery in hushed tones, with raised eyebrows, as if even the mere mention of the picture would bring terrible consequences. My grandfather refused to talk about the photograph altogether and acted as if it didn't exist, although it occupied a place in the big family album in the mahogany desk in the parlor at his house.
My father was amused by it all. "Every family has its mysteries," he said. "Some families have ghosts, we have a picture."
In the space that was supposed to have been occupied by my uncle Adelard, at the end of the top row, next to my father, there is simply a blank space. Nothing.
My uncle Adelard had disappeared at the moment the camera clicked and the shutter opened.
My uncle Adelard was always disappearing, going away and coming back again, a drifter whom I regarded as a glamorous figure, an adventurer, although he was thought of as a hobo and a tramp by some of the others in the family.
The family had settled down in Frenchtown on the east side of Monument in Massachusetts along with hundreds of other French Canadians, living in the three-decker tenements and two-story houses, working in the shops producing combs and shirts and buttons, sending their children to St. Jude's Parochial School, and attending mass at St. Jude's Church on Sundays. They shopped every day in the stores on Fourth Street, although they made regular excursions to Monument Center, the downtown shopping district.
I was puzzled by the way the people of Frenchtown accepted the daily grind of the factories, week after week, year after year. My father, for instance. A handsome man who was quick to laugh, he enjoyed a great reputation as a ball
player in the Twilight Industrial League, swift and daring as a base runner and hitting dramatic home runs in the clutch. He danced the quadrilles at weddings with the same kind of quickness, whirling my mother around dizzyingly on the dance floor with whoops of delight while she hung on for dear life. The next morning he trudged his way back to the Monument Comb Shop, where he worked for forty-five years, enduring the layoffs, the lean years of the Depression, and the violence of the strikes.
My uncle Adelard escaped the shops-the daily drudgery and the layoffs and the walkouts-just as he had escaped the photographer's lens in Canada. That was why I felt a kinship with him. In that summer of 1938, I was thirteen years old, timid and shy and sometimes afraid of my own shadow. But in my heart I was brave and courageous like the cowboys in the Saturday afternoon serials at the Plymouth Theater. I felt that I, too, could become a hero if the opportunity presented itself or if I were tested. But there were no opportunities in Frenchtown. I longed to explore the outside world I saw in the movies or heard about on the radio or read about in books. Uncle Adelard was the only person outside my books and movies who had the dimensions of a hero, who dared to be different, who wandered the earth.
And that was why I hounded my father with questions whenever I got the chance. I waited while he listened to the radio and the news of Hitter gobbling up countries in Europe, felt guilty because the photograph was more important to me than the marching armies overseas. But this did not deter me from my purpose. I would gauge his disposition after he snapped off the radio, and if he seemed in a talkative mood, brought up the subject of the photograph.
Sipping the beer he brewed in the porcelain crocks in the cellar, smoking his Chesterfields, he often smiled in resignation and said: "Okay, what do you want to know?" As if I had never asked these questions before.
"Okay, it was a Sunday afternoon, right? And you were all on the front steps up in St. Jacques . . ."
"That's right," my father said, lighting another Chesterfield with a kitchen match scratched on his pants. "We were dressed in our Sunday best in shirts and ties and wool jackets. It was a hot summer afternoon so there was a lot of moving around, a lot of squirming."
"And Uncle Adelard was standing right beside you . . ."
"He sure was," he said. "It was impossible not to notice him. He was restless, refused to stand still. Until your Pèpére turned around and gave him a look. He could shrivel your bones with that look.
"So at last Adelard became quiet, although he still managed to give me a pinch, daring me to flinch or jump."
"And then what happened?"
"Well, nothing. The photographer, Mr. Archambault, snapped the picture when we were all settled down. Rosanna was a baby in your Mèmére's arms and had been fussing a bit. But she fell asleep, dozing nice and quiet. And, bang, the picture was taken."
"Now, tell me what happened when Mr. Archambault brought the picture to the house," I said.
The smell of celluloid clung to my father, a sweet acid smell that emanated not only from his clothes but from his skin as well, even when he emerged from a bath. It was the smell of the material from which combs and brushes were made at the shop. It was the smell of work, the smell of weariness, even the smell of danger because celluloid was highly flammable and sometimes spurted into flame without warning.
Sighing, he said:
"Well, when we looked at the photograph, there was no Adelard. Instead of Adelard, there was a blank space. He had disappeared. . . ."
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Posted January 1, 2011
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Posted June 17, 2014
Alot of you don't know who I am, most of you never even talked to me, but its fine to be honest people ignore me and tell me to fu<_>ck myself and to go die. And thats just what ill do.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 21, 2009
Mr. Cormier gives us so much in what seemed too short a novel. Paul, the son of a factory worker in depression times is fascinated by a story regarding his uncle. Apparently when a family photo was taken, his uncle somehow disappeared from view in the photo. Paul later learns that this was not a prank but the result a special power that his uncle possesses. Paul also learns that he has the same power.
The power is not a gift but in reality it is almost like a drug that has side effects that effect your mind towards violence. Paul must wrestle with the urges caused by the power while he goes through a lot of teenage issues such as the crush he has on his aunt.
The author develops a small town, much in the way that Stephan King does with his Castle Rock tales. The characters are rich and extremely interesting and you get to the end of the book too fast to notice. I had read an another excellent book by Mr. Cormier about a teenager with a bicycle (I can't remember the title) who is actually going through psychotherapy while he imagines himself racing on the bike and avoiding dangers. With these two excellent reads under my belt, I will look for more books by the same author.
Posted October 17, 2006
Fade explores the advantages and repercussions of the ability to become invisible. It is a science-fiction fantasy novel, but the science is downplayed. Cormier has been praised and criticized for his risky novels which include ¿The Chocolate War¿ and ¿I Am the Cheese¿. Published in 1988, Fade is not Robert Cormier¿s first novel, but is written as if he is just discovering the techniques of the English language. To prove his lack of skill, when examined, Cormier¿s characters lack any deep personality. Fade is written with a very basic vocabulary but would not be appropriate for young children. Robert Cormier¿s language and word choice leaves something to be desired. His descriptions are simplistic and repetitive. The novel lacks mystery. Science Fiction novels explore the unknown. They captivate an audience with their ventures in undiscovered territories. Fade lacks this aspect. Cormier never employs the use of double meanings or other like rhetorical devices which leaves with a dull, dry canvass for his story. Throughout the book he constantly attempts imagery by the use of an abundance of adjectives. His attempt is lost however in the lack of excitement between his words and often by the overuse of adjectives. The format of the book is plain and expected. There are no patters or structure other then that of simplicity. The pages are not aesthetically pleasing because of their lack of structure. They simply regurgitate the story page after page with not even an attempt at change.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 28, 2006
When people think about superpowers, what usually comes to mind is one of the Marvel heroes, such as Spiderman, Superman, the Hulk, Batman, etc. But when you pick up a book where ordinary people use superpowers in a realistic manner yet have no possibility of comprehending the repercussions of such a power, the novel becomes more enjoyable and fascinating. In this more mysterious and obscure genre enters a first-rate novel called Fade, written by Robert Cormier. Fade follows the life of thirteen year old Paul Moreaux, a young boy who lives in 20th century America. This young boy possesses a gift which has been passed down generation to generation from the males in his family the ability to ¿fade,¿ to disappear into nothingness whenever and wherever he desires. At first, Paul is both thrilled about and skeptical of this newly founded prospect, but he soon learns the consequences and tribulations that come with such a powerful and dark gift. His juvenile acts lead to discoveries of a sexual nature that is both exciting and rebellious, which gives a dark glow to his character. Paul¿s actions stem from his compulsion to understand the actions of the people around him. When his dad gets involved in the violence of the labor revolts, Paul feels obligated to commit an act that will haunt his life forever. To give away the plot would ruin the amusement that this book provides its readers. The book does an excellent job of playing the innocence of youth off the wisdom of maturity. Paul is at the age where he realizes the seriousness of life and the gravity of it as a whole, but at the same time his immature nature takes over throughout the novel, causing him to perform dark acts and dirty deeds to fulfill his pleasures which he cannot control. As the fading starts to become involuntary, it finally distorts his whole life. Paul learns the hard way about the complexities of the adult world through ¿fading.¿ He also realizes that the power of invisibility doesn¿t provide a cure for life¿s difficulties, misfortunes, or pleasures. This power, as the reader soon discovers, provides no purpose whatsoever, but it does induct evil and misfortune to those who come across its awesome power. Fade is a novel that gives you chills up your spine because it makes you look at your surroundings differently and will make you wonder about the things going on around us that we are unaware of. Cormier does this by mixing fantasy, suspense, and reality into a wonderful, crafted masterpiece. He makes the characters in the novel so real that you would mistake this novel for an autobiography. Fade is original, compelling, and most of all, a surprising novel, a truly fine novel, as it possesses dark powers that do unimaginable things.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 5, 2006
If you had a supper power a way to make you better than every one else. A way to do things others couldn¿t. What would you do with your powers? Would you have any regrets or any fears of what you have done or would do? How about being a thirteen year old boy who is very lustful and has a very attractive person who lives in his house you can figure out the kinds of thing he does with the power to become invisible the power to fade. Threw most of his life he has had this gift or is this so called gift a curse. The book made me feel like a little kid at first and I was going along with the things Paul the main character was doing. And it brought me into the book. At the ending of the book I felt like there was a lot of regret for the things he had done. And it made me feel regret and it shows there are consequences for your actions. I thought Fade was a great book for a mature audience and it thought me a great lesson of responsibility.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 5, 2006
In this highly suspenseful novel by Robert Cormier you read about a 13 year old boy who learns to ¿fade¿ or become invisible. This book is full of murder, sex, and violence of all sorts. This book is not recommended for people under the age of 16. Robert Cormier is a highly acclaimed author who is able to capture the mind of the reader and hold them within the confines of the novel until the end. As I read this book I was pulled in and could not put the book down. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure and suspense in a story.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 4, 2005
just to say something first: i am in 8th grade and i just read Fade and i understood it all... but whatever. I read alot and i was in the bookstore one day looking for a book to read. i picked up Fade because i seen it in the store a bunch and i couldnt find anything else that looked very interesting. since there is no excert or whatever on the back i started to read it. All i read was like the first page where Cormier describes the picture and i was hooked. this was an amazing book! i kept you jumping from sides about if what Paul had written was fitcion or autobigraphical. it was exciting and had me on the edge of seat wanting to find out what would happen next. i must admitt that i was told a few times to put it away while reading in class ) but Fade is slightly disturbing in some of its content and might not be sutible for young readers but i read alot and i had no problem with it really. i think at some point everyone should read Fade! it is my favorite or one of my favorite books.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2005
This is a lame book. I didn't even get past 10 pages, because it's lame. Don't read this book, I don't like how its written and the main character is annoying. I recommend Chronicles of Narnia, Crown Duel, Harry Potter seriesWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 15, 2005
I read this book back in '92-'93 I was in 7th or 8th grade. The school librarian rec. this as a perfect read for me. I truely enjoyed this book from beg. to end, but as an adult I have to say that if a teacher were to rec. this book to my 12 or 13yr. old I would be livid!! Looking back the incest, sex and murder were a bit too much even for an advanced student such as myself. I would rec. this book to a 14yr old readers and up!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 15, 2005
This book is full of action and mysteriousness. It keeps you hooked until the very end and i must confess can be confusing at times. It is somewhat gory and violent but any young adult can handle it. Cormier really jumps inside his character and gives plenty detail. This is the fifth robert cormier book i've read and he doesn't fail to impress me. The whole idea for this book wasn't very original, with having a 13 year old figuring out his past and learning to fade or become invisible. Robert cormier displays his own flavor and originality in this book and it's truly a work of art. I strongly recommend this book to anyoneWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 10, 2004
I loved the book, but the post 3 before mine really shouldn't have been put up. For that person to have read it in 8th grade they just can't comprehend the vastness cormier talks about. i'm assuming theyre just an average 8th grader. i tried reading in the middle of the night in 6th grade and was totally confused. i waited 2 years then tried the chocolate war (so i was in 8th grade, but i've always been in honors and just have a higher comprehension than this kid or something) since then i've read all of cormier's books. I read fade in 9th grade and even at that, i think it was barely a book i should have read at the time. i just think there are many different things people need a certain intellectual level to enjoy, such as books like this, or movies such as the royal tenembaums. so many people don't understand it. Just wanted to say that 3 posts before this, pretty much disregard that review. it is an amazing book. :)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 6, 2003
An intriguing book, to say the least, FADE does contain some disturbingly explicit material that might make most sensitive readers shy away from it during the first few chapters. If you are not one of those sensitive readers, however, this book contains many elements that make it worth your time. The first half of the book, I must admit, bored me slightly: I am not an avid fan of history, but the sci-fi element of the 'fade' helped to hold my attention until the second half of the book began, with 'Susan.' From there on, I hung on to every word. Although Paul is the character that is furthest developed, I personally felt that Cormier did a much better job when writing the third-person character of Ozzie. His seventy pages worth of material were the ones that rescued this book: beautifully written, with just the right tone, and looking deeply into the motives of this poor and tortured boy [yes, Ozzie.] It was so wonderful that I flew through those pages, reread them many times...and so believable that I found myself comparing the character to someone that I know. In addition, Cormier does an excellent job with descriptions throughout the book. I would encourage everyone to read this book, if just for those seventy pages. Their finale is absolutely heart-wrenching.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 1, 2003
Robert really gave some insight into what really goes on a boys mind, like fear, indecision, confusion,lust and all that stuff. I also like the fact that eventhough Robert gave him the power to fade, he didn't make him out be this super hero who always knew what to do. Even though I like this book, I'm still a little confused. How did his brother die?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 6, 2003
Peter Nguyen ¿ 8th FADE By: Robert Cormier From the very first word to the last, Robert Cormier loses the reader interest. This book is boring and does not go anywhere that would interest the reader in anywhere. Sets in Quebec where a thirteen-year-old boy discovers he has the ability to become invisible and becomes a spy in the summer of 1933. Fade is about Paul, a thirteen year old, who falls in love with his Aunt Rosanna and first discovers he can fade while being chased down a dark alley from a bully. He doesn¿t learn to fade until his uncle Adelard, who isn¿t afraid of ghosts, comes down to explain to him and show him how the fade works and how to do it. Learning how to do it now, Paul goes sneaking around spying on his friends and strangers. After a while Paul gets bored and decides to become a writer. Paul publishes a book and decides putting it in the schools journal, but his friends say it isn¿t good enough. He stops writing and goes back to spying on others. What will he do next with invisibility powers? While in fade mode, people can feel your presence when you are near them or even if you are looking at them. Robert Cormier goes into too much detail in this particular book. The things Paul sees and do while spying and snooping around is not a definite storyline a reader would want to read about. This book by Robert Cormier ¿ FADE is as dull as a dishwasher. From chapter to chapter this book will just put you to sleep. No action takes place in this book and there are no exciting conflicts at all. I would not consider this book to be read by another reader.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.