A graduate of the University of Montreal in French Studies, Jean-François Beauchemin was subsequently a producer for Radio-Canada radio for eleven years. In 2004, he decided to leave this job for good in order to work full time as a writer. A prolific author, he has to date published numerous novels, a few stories, notebooks, short stories and collections of poetry. Among the honors he has received are the Prix France-Québec (The day of crows2005), the Prix des Libraires du Québec (The Making of Dawn, 2007), the grand prize for artistic creation from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (2012) and the Prix Hommage Gaston-Miron (2019). He offers a pensive, lucid work, imbued with a poetry always anchored in reality.
How did the creation of this book go?
I had just spent a few days at the bedside of my big dog Camus. The strange illness that had been affecting him for a while was indeed taking on worrying proportions, to the point of threatening his life. But attentive care, a maximum of human warmth and a lot of rest have fortunately come to the end of this bad patch. The idea then came to me to write down this dazzling but profound encounter with grief. So I wrote (almost in one go) The Spring and the Reed, in three months. However, I was careful not to turn it into a book about pain or death. I wanted to put much more emphasis on this poignant relationship that is inevitably established over the years between a dog and his master, and more broadly between beings who love each other.
What do you want readers to take away from your book? What message did you want to convey?
I don’t really like message books. Let’s say what I would like people to take away from The Spring and the Reed, it is above all this kind of peaceful meditation that emerges. And then, too, I hope that his readers will be at least a little sensitive to this little music that I have tried (as always) to create in the middle of the sentences.
An extract of The source and the reed
The shock of the arrival was softened by the demonstrations of love for her. His reputation as a beggar of feelings preceded him: the nursing staff, accustomed to this kind of solemn circumstances, spontaneously gathered around him to shower him with caresses, praise, tender reprimands. I found in his eyes the sparkle of fine weather. But that old sun was now veiled in tears. In the small, somewhat cold room, wisely adapted to its function, he had to be lifted and placed on the examination table. The strange lightness of the body hit me like a fist. I told myself that the weight loss of the last few months was not enough to explain this sudden relief. Since then, I have struggled with a thought that does not resemble me, but whose curious effects of counterweight I feel within me. This evening again, the idea came to me that, sensing the need for a kind of retrocession, Camus at that moment had perhaps already relieved himself of his soul, and that this weight less represented the fair share of it. . Everything then went very quickly. I remember the fingers feeling the paw in search of a vein, the needle promptly and as respectfully as possible thrust into the flesh, the beautiful frightened head held between my hands, the eyelids which at the end lowered into a sort of tragic gentleness, of a forehead resting on a forehead as if in farewell.
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What is hidden behind The source and the reed
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