Catalogue


Spring tides /
Jacques Poulin ; translated from the French by Sheila Fischman.
edition
1st Archipelago Books ed.
imprint
Brooklin, N.Y. : Archipelago Books, c2007.
description
237 p.
ISBN
0977857646, 9780977857647
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
added author
imprint
Brooklin, N.Y. : Archipelago Books, c2007.
isbn
0977857646
9780977857647
catalogue key
6233975
A Look Inside
First Chapter
A Hand at the Window

In the beginning he was alone on the island. He had a code name, Teddy Bear, which he used for communicating with the boss’s helicopter. Every Saturday the boss would bring him work and provisions for the week.
There was still some snow in the underbrush, but the ice on the beach had been swept away by the April spring tides. Sometimes flocks of snow geese would land on the sandbar on the north shore. If Teddy saw any geese on Saturday morning he would advise his boss by radio and ask him to land at the other end of the island.
On this first Saturday in May there were no snow geese. They were probably on the other islands in the river, or at Montmagny or Cap Tourmente. The boss landed his heli- copter on the edge of the beach, opposite the North House. Teddy wanted to meet him, but before the Jet Ranger’s rotor had stopped spinning, the man was already climbing up the path to the house. He was small in stature, bald and paunchy. Eyes to the ground, face flushed, he strode past his employee without seeing him. He carried two bags of provisions and a leather briefcase.
When Teddy caught up with him on the gallery where he had set down his packages, the boss asked the ritual question:
"Are you happy on the island?" "Very happy," said Teddy. "Are you sure?" Teddy nodded.
The boss’s eyes were filled with concern. He shook Teddy’s hand vigorously, then smoothed his gloves. Racing driver’s gloves: the fingers were cut off and there were air vents on the backs. He never removed them.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1987-02:
Poulin, contemporary Canadian novelist and author of The ``Jimmy ''Trilogy (CH, May'80), published this novel originally as Les grandes mar;ees in 1978. We are indebted to translator Sheila Fischman who has made it accessible to the English-reading public. The story is simple. A Quebecois translator of comic strips is offered what he wants most by his boss who wishes to make him happy: an island retreat in the St. Lawrence River, l'Ile Madame. Here, his work, tennis, simple rounds of the island, and the presence of a lovely young woman keep him occupied happily. However, the boss, who arrives each week by helicopter to drop off comics and pick up finished translations, takes to dropping off, one each trip, additional characters, such as ``the Author'' or ``the Organizer.'' Gradually the translator's life on the island changes. The charm of this novel lies not only in the originality of the story and characters but also in the delightful comedy, which is sustained by the narration and dialogue. This is a novel one reads for enjoyment but one that invites reflection. The ambience is contemporary. The idiomatic English of the translator captures Poulin's style. Recommended for above secondary-school level and for general readers.- M.H. Nachtsheim, The College of St. Catherine
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2007-04-23:
Canadian novelist Poulin's edgy allegory finds Teddy Bear, a translator of newspaper comic strips, living in happy isolation on a remote island, with his cat, his reference books, internal dialogues with a possibly imaginary brother and the Prince, a robotic tennis opponent. When "the boss" who commissions Teddy's work decides the cat must be lonely, the boss flies in on his helicopter a "lady cat" and black-eyed Marie. Felines and humans pair off, but their idyll is interrupted by the arrival of an eclectic parade of new residents introduced by the boss to make Teddy happy: the boss's free-spirit wife, Featherhead; a French comic book scholar; a muttering Author; a practical Ordinary Man; and an Organizer who is sent to "sensitize the population." As Teddy learns the true fate of his painstakingly wrought weekly translations and winter approaches, the earnest silliness turns dark. It's as funny and fresh now as when it was first published (in French) in 1978. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
Winner of Canada's Governor General's Award For decades Poulin has been teaching us that great literature can be about small things: the language of love and the love of language, the pleasure of solitude and the grief of loneliness, the value of work and the importance of play. While each of his novels stands on its own, together they create a world that is instantly recognizable and immediately endearing. Alyson Waters, Yale University Poulin is a master of imagery and dialogue: they rest like froth on top of something much more murky and morose: an underlying fear of emptiness. The Silhouette Shares a mix of detached humour, fantasy and compassion with Vonnegut and Salinger. Saskatoon Star-Phoenix One of the finest and most underrated novelists in Québec. The Globe & Mail The most affecting aspect of Spring Tides, I think, is the unexpected sense of loss that sneaks up on you at the end of the novel, like a sudden deep pain, as if Poulin has been distracting you by making shadows with one hand while the other did its subtle, cutting work. Nick Ancosta, The New York Sun
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, April 2007
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Summaries
Main Description
A splendid introduction to "one of the finest and most underrated novelists in Quebec" (The Globe and Mail).
Main Description
Peacefully employed on an uninhabited island, Teddy Bear, a translator of comic strips, lives in the company of his faithful dictionary, his marauding cat, Matousalem, and the Prince, his tennis ball machine. Convinced that the translator's happiness is in jeopardy, his boss helicopters in a few solitude-seeking companions: the lovely and elusive Marie, the aging nudist Featherhead with her extroverted Chihuahua in tow, Professor Moccasin, the somewhat deaf comic book scholar, the irritable Author, the Ordinary Man, and the Organizer, sent to "sensitize the population." The feverish pitch of the island's discordant chorus rises with the spring tides. Jacques Poulin's hilarious philosophical fable is an existential masterpiece.
Main Description
"Poulin is a master of imagery and dialogue: They rest like froth on top of something much more murky and morose: an underlying fear of emptiness."- The Silhouette Peacefully employed on an uninhabited island, a translator of comic strips (codename Teddy Bear) lives in the company of his dictionaries, his marauding cat, Matousalem, and his tennis ball machine (the Prince). Convinced that the translator's happiness is in jeopardy, his boss helicopters in a few solitude-seeking companions-the beautiful and elusive Marie with her flirtatious cat Moustache; the seductive nudist, Featherhead; Professor Moccasin, the half-deaf comic strip scholar; the moody and contradictory Author; the Ordinary Man; and the Organizer, sent to "sensitize the population." As the spring tides drag ocean debris onto the shore, Teddy Bear and his companions seek out their own solitudes in this hilarious philosophical fable. Jacques Poulin 's novels include Volkswagen Blues (a finalist for Canada Reads 2005) and La tournee d'automne ( Autumn Rounds ). Poulin received the 1978 Governor General's Award for Les Grandes Marees ( Spring Tides ) and the Molson Prize for lifetime artistic contribution in 1990 and 2000. He lives in Quebec.
Main Description
"Poulin is a master of imagery and dialogue: They rest like froth on top of something much more murky and morose: an underlying fear of emptiness."- The Silhouette Peacefully employed on an uninhabited island, a translator of comic strips (codename Teddy Bear) lives in the company of his dictionaries, his marauding cat, Matousalem, and his tennis ball machine (the Prince). Convinced that the translator's happiness is in jeopardy, his boss helicopters in a few solitude-seeking companions-the beautiful and elusive Marie with her flirtatious cat Moustache; the seductive nudist, Featherhead; Professor Moccasin, the half-deaf comic strip scholar; the moody and contradictory Auth∨ the Ordinary Man; and the Organizer, sent to "sensitize the population." As the spring tides drag ocean debris onto the shore, Teddy Bear and his companions seek out their own solitudes in this hilarious philosophical fable. Jacques Poulin 's novels include Volkswagen Blues (a finalist for Canada Reads 2005) and La tournee d'automne (Autumn Rounds). Poulin received the 1978 Governor General's Award for Les Grandes Marees (Spring Tides) and the Molson Prize for lifetime artistic contribution in 1990 and 2000. He lives in Quebec.
Main Description
“Poulin is a master of imagery and dialogue: They rest like froth on top of something much more murky and morose: an underlying fear of emptiness.”- The Silhouette Peacefully employed on an uninhabited island, a translator of comic strips (codename Teddy Bear) lives in the company of his dictionaries, his marauding cat, Matousalem, and his tennis ball machine (the Prince). Convinced that the translator’s happiness is in jeopardy, his boss helicopters in a few solitude-seeking companions-the beautiful and elusive Marie with her flirtatious cat Moustache; the seductive nudist, Featherhead; Professor Moccasin, the half-deaf comic strip scholar; the moody and contradictory Auth∨ the Ordinary Man; and the Organizer, sent to “sensitize the population.” As the spring tides drag ocean debris onto the shore, Teddy Bear and his companions seek out their own solitudes in this hilarious philosophical fable. Jacques Poulin ’s novels include Volkswagen Blues (a finalist for Canada Reads 2005) and La tournee d’automne (Autumn Rounds). Poulin received the 1978 Governor General’s Award for Les Grandes Marees (Spring Tides) and the Molson Prize for lifetime artistic contribution in 1990 and 2000. He lives in Quebec.
Main Description
"Poulin is a master of imagery and dialogue: They rest like froth on top of something much more murky and morose: an underlying fear of emptiness."- The Silhouette Peacefully employed on an uninhabited island, a translator of comic strips (codename Teddy Bear) lives in the company of his dictionaries, his marauding cat, Matousalem, and his tennis ball machine (the Prince). Convinced that the translator's happiness is in jeopardy, his boss helicopters in a few solitude-seeking companions-the beautiful and elusive Marie with her flirtatious cat Moustache; the seductive nudist, Featherhead; Professor Moccasin, the half-deaf comic strip scholar; the moody and contradictory Auth∨ the Ordinary Man; and the Organizer, sent to "sensitize the population." As the spring tides drag ocean debris onto the shore, Teddy Bear and his companions seek out their own solitudes in this hilarious philosophical fable. Jacques Poulin 's novels include Volkswagen Blues (a finalist for Canada Reads 2005) and La tournée d'automne (Autumn Rounds). Poulin received the 1978 Governor General's Award for Les Grandes Marées (Spring Tides) and the Molson Prize for lifetime artistic contribution in 1990 and 2000. He lives in Québec.

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