My favourite Montreal book...

Franck Robinson monte au paradis

By Marianne Ackerman

A review of Franck Robinson Monte Au Paradis by David Mackinnon

Published on January 1, 2006

Franck Robinson Monte Au Paradis
David Mackinnon

You won’t find an English version of David MacKinnon’s Return Ticket in bookstores. It hasn’t been published yet, though a French translation came out in 2004 out under the
delicious title Franck Robinson monte au paradis. Vancouver-born MacKinnon lived in Quebec City and Montreal for many years before moving to Paris in the mid-90s, then on to Amsterdam. A diligent, nay driven writer, MacKinnon has several manuscripts in his files. This one is the first to be published, and by no less prestigious a house than Editions de Noël of Paris, the first home of Cendars, Henry Miller and Céline.

You won’t find a promenading novelist more keenly aware of his literary parentage or more firmly committed to honing a public persona compatible with the spirit of his work. A lawyer by training (civil and criminal, Université Laval), MacKinnon cut an imposing figure at last year’s Blue Metropolis literary festival: a tall Celt in a serious suit, leaning on the rotunda bar, chain smoking at whoever would listen. Franck Robinson is a lawyer too, although which side of the code Franck prefers is hard to tell. Let’s just say he understands the law, and uses his knowledge to keep himself ahead of various packs.

The more important fact to know is that Franck is (or was) totally infatuated with a stripper named Sheba (his sometime wife) who drags him through the underworlds of Montreal and Paris, lures him into fantastic dark adventures, and squeezes his heart till he screams for help, alas too late. It’s not pretty, what a tiny imaginative whore can do to a grown man who falls for her charms. The redeeming qualities of this sexually seditious thriller are its poetic energy and crackling dialogue. Denise Luccioni’s translation sings. Surely Franck deserves exposure in the original English, where his behaviour can be experienced without the balm of Parisian French. mRb

A novelist and playwright, Marianne Ackerman is publisher of the online arts magazine The Rover, found at roverarts.com.

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