This autobiographical examination of the books that changed his life as he went from an eight-year-old with his first library card to a famous dramatist is packed with information about books, Montreal, and the author himself.
I laughed out loud, I wept, I grew exasperated, I sympathized, and I had occasionally to get up and walk around to calm myself.
Birth of a Bookworm, or rather Un ange cornu avec des ailes de tole, was recommended by my friend Chantal, bibliothecaire Quebecoise. I asked if she could recommend something that was written in easy-to-read French. She suggested this and Tremblay's other memoir, Les Vues animees.
When I began reading Un Ange I became so involved and was so eager to find out what was happening next that I was frustrated at the slow pace I was making in French and found an English version. I read the rest of the book switching back and forth between the two.
Tremblay's love of books is breathtaking. Here he is opening the package that contained the first book that was bought for him, that he owned rather than borrowed:
On dit que desirer est plus jouissant que posseder.C'est faux pour les livres. . . . It's said that desire is more thrilling than possession. That's not true for books. If you've ever felt that warmth in the stomach, that burst of excitement in the region of the heart, that movement of the face -- a small tic of the mouth, perhaps, a new line on the forehead, the eyes that search, that devour -- just as you are finally holding the long-for book, when you open it, cracking it just a little so you can hear it, anyone who has experienced that moment of incomparable happiness will understand what I mean. Opening a book is one of the most exhilarating, the most incomparable experiences that a person can have in his life.
Michel Tremblay, Un Ange cornu avec des ailes de tole (1994) 241 pages. 5 / 5
Michael Tremblay, Birth of a Bookworm (translated by Sheila Fischman, 2003) 192 pages. 5 / 5