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About the Author: Nicole Brossard

Born in Montreal (Quebec), poet, novelist and essayist Nicole Brossard published her first book in 1965. In 1965 she cofounded the influential literary magazine La Barre du Jour and in 1976 she codirected the film Some American Femnists. She has published eight novels including Picture Theory, Mauve Desert, Baroque at Dawn, an essay "The Aerial Letter" and many books of poetry including Daydream Mechanics, Lovhers, Typhon dru, Installations, Musee de l'os et de l'eau. She has won the Governor General award twice for her poetry (1974, 1984) and Le Grand Prix de Poesie de la Foundation les Forges in 1989 and 1999. Le Prix Athanase-David, which is for a lifetime of literary acheivement, was attributed to her in 1991. That same year she received the The Harbourfront Festival Prize. In 1994, she was made a member of L'Academie des Lettres du Quebec. Her work has been widely translated and anthologized. Mauve Desert and Baroque at Dawn have been translated into Spanish. In 1998 she published a bilingual edition of an autofiction essay titled She would be the first sentence of my new novel/Elle serait la premiere phrase de mon prochain roman(1998). In 1989, a book of her poetry in translation, Installations, was released, translated by Erin Moure and Robert Majzels. Nicole Brossard lives in Montreal.

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Goodreads rating: 3.78

Paperback, Published in Oct 1990 by Coach House Press

ISBN10: 0889103895 | ISBN13: 9780889103894

Page count: 192

Nicole Brossard is Canada's most important, and most prolific, writer of experimental fiction and poetry. Writing in French, she has twice won the Governor General's Award and has published more than 20 books. Mauve Desert, translated into English by Susanne de Lotbinière-Harwood, is "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma," as Churchill once said of Russia. Set in the desert of the American Southwest (site of early atomic bomb testing and about as far as you can get on the continent from Brossard's homeland of Quebec), the novel comprises three related sections: one tells the story of the mysterious adventures of 15-year-old Melanie, her mother, and her mother's lover; one traces the writing and reading of that story; and one relates the story's ultimate translation.

Heavily influenced by the French philosophical traditions of the 20th century, Brossard sees the world as an intellectual playground, stating, "Reality is what we invent." All her characters, as well as the natural world, are elements in that created, fictionalized universe: "Very young I learned to love the fire from the sky, torrential lightning branched out over the city like thinking flowing in the mind." Every action of her unpredictable characters takes on the feel of ritual. Each scene is a tableau, each ordinary object (a revolver, an auto maintenance book) wrapped in an aura of mystery as if it represents all revolvers, all books. An atmosphere of hyperreality informs the work, which at times feels highly filmic. (Wim Wenders's Paris, Texas comes to mind.) In the end, Brossard's subject is language itself: she explores the idea of "the text" in a way that is highly charged, profoundly unsettling, and at times suggestively apocalyptic. --Mark Frutkin

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