The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

April 7, 2017

April 7, 1919

Roger Lemelin (April 7, 1919 to March 16, 1992) was a Canadian writer, who wrote in French. His most famous novel is The Crime of Ovid Plouffe (1982 in French) This novel was based on a real event, and we quote the account of this event given by Brian Busby on his website The Dusty Bookcase:

On 9 September 1949 a Canadian Pacific DC-3 exploded over Quebec's Cap Touremonte killing twenty-three passengers and crew. Amongst the former was Rita Guay, the twenty-eight-year-old wife of Quebec City jeweller and watchmaker Albert Guay. The plane was to have flown between Montreal and Baie Comeau. Mrs Guay boarded during a stopover in Sainte-Foy, just as a special delivery package was being placed in the cargo hull.

Two weeks later, on what just happened to be his thirty-first birthday, Mr Guay was arrested. The tip-off might have been that an acquaintance, Marguerite Pitre, had had that special delivery package put on the plane. Or it could've been that on the morning of the crash he'd taken out a $10,000 accidental death policy on his wife. Maybe it was the sorry fact that he'd been having an affair with a teenaged waitress named Marie-Ange Robataille. Other names came out in court, including that of Guay's business associate Généreux Ruest, a tubercular watchmaker who possessed the very skills necessary to make the bomb. Such a sordid tale. ....

The background above reflects my interest in true crime. 
Roger Lemelin  derived from this event a novel, The Crime of Ovide Plouffe (Le crime d'Ovide Plouffe) (1982/1984).

The blogger, 
Brian Busby, author of The Dusty Bookcase (A Casual Exploration Of Canada's Suppressed, Ignored And Forgotten Literature) did not like The Crime of Ovide Plouffe, not because it was suppressed ignored or forgotten. Rather, it was badly written.

He describes Lemelin's first published book, The Town Below, as "one of the best novels I've read this year." We quote a bit of The Town Below  
(Originally published in 1944 in French as Au pied de la pente douce,) below:

She opened the parlour door under pretext of letting in the cat, which Denis hated for the reason that Lise was so fond of it.With an air of annoyance, he presented her with the volumes he had bought.
"I'd like to be rich he observed, "but it is a great deal to be eighteen. When you are old you need fine presents to fill up the void
....."Are they for me? I'm not going to thank you for them, because I love you and that's better...."

A few paragraphs later, the narrator notes-

"Lise was arranging her curls. The majority of women know their hair better than they do their heart, and therein lies their strength."

Oh Canada.

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