Denis Thériault – The Peculiar Life of the Lonely Postman

imageAn almost certainly delightful novella of long-distance love through the medium of Japanese style poetry – a Montreal postman, Bilodo, steams open and reads letters in the form of Haiku between Ségolène, a young Guadeloupian teacher, and a Canadian academic.  Given the brevity of the tale, there would be a real danger of plot spoilers but as the key relationship intensifies the correspondence moves from Haiku to Tanka poetic forms.

On the canoe floor

A suffocating trunkfish,

drowning in the air

La Désirade’s waves

Clear and luminous

Like a tankra by Bashō

As the ocean licks the shore

its surf a salty

kiss – our lips lightly touch,

retreat, draw close again,

and lock at last

I prefaced the review with ‘almost certainly delightful’ novella because it wasn’t for me.  It was everything to do with timing, had I read the novella six months earlier, there would have been no qualification, it is a book I would have thoroughly enjoyed.  However, the use of a serious traffic accident as a plot device meant that aspects of the tale were far too close to my own life (and its near extinguishment) for comfort, so it emotionally became a bit of a struggle to finish the 110 pages.

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