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November 6, 2012 / Lee Skallerup Bessette

Chronique de la Derive Douce

Dany Laferriere just recently revised and republished his book Chronique de la Derive Douce, first published in 1994. The English translation (still only of the first version) was published in 1997 as A Drifting Year. The story is 366 short verses about the first year Laferriere lived in Montreal (1976, after all, was a leap year). I haven’t had a chance to read the expanded version (it has almost doubled in length. Laferriere himself, in an interview promoting the book, talks about how he decided to rewrite the book, with the hindsight of 35 years of living in Montreal and North America.

What’s interesting, too, is how the book is framed as “L’enigme d’arrive” to capitalize on the popularity of L’Enigme de Retour.” Laferriere is nothing if not smart about how to market himself and his books.

But even more interesting to me (as I am interested in how Laferriere rewrites, revises, and adapts his works is this TV special from 1988. It aired on TQS, the television station he worked at as a weatherman. It is an hour-long special called, “Etes-vous raciste?” (Are You Racist?). It is, as the host describes, a retelling of Laferriere’s arrival to Montreal and subsequently the racism he faced. It is certainly anachronistic (what are those puppets?), but it is an interesting re-telling of his first year in Montreal, as retold (and retold) in Chronique.

I found it serendipitously while looking at another Laferriere video on YouTube (there are, if you search his name, 244 results). Again, one hears echoes not only of Chronique, but also Les annees 80s dans ma vielle Ford.

I have my work cut out for me if I even want to get this book written.

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