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Monday, August 22, 2016

Reader's Diary #1359 - Samuel Archibald: Three Tshakapesh Dreams


Sometimes in a piece of fiction, I'll come across an observation that seems so precise and so obscure that it immediately rings true. In Samuel Archibald's "Three Tshakapesh Dreams" the line, the details of which are marginally important to the story at best, goes,
It was just by Saint-Eusèbe Church and the McDonald’s cigarette factory, where in spring and summer the dried tobacco smells so much like cinnamon buns that it’s been twenty years since I’ve eaten one of those damned buns.
I can only conclude that Archibald himself has once had experience being near a cigarette factory. I haven't and never in a million years would have assumed that dried tobacco smells like cinnamon buns.

Such lines are clever. If this presumed throwaway line feels authentic then the author gains trust and everything feels probable. "Three Tshakapesh Dreams" deals with a First Nations man who works as an uncover cop in a rather seedy and tough neighbourhood of Montreal. Heroin, prostitution, biker gangs, and mafia. It's all foreign world of experience to me. Honestly, Archibald might be pulling the details out of his ass and those familiar with that place and life might laugh their heads off over the inaccuracies, but man, it feels real and therefore, intriguing as all hell. Almost like disaster tourism but from a safe distance.

But it's not just the setting, the story, too is suspenseful and full of drama. I quite enjoyed it.

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