Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Reader's Diary #1394- Michel Tremblay: The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant

My only prior experience reading Michel Tremblay before was his play Forever Yours Marie-Lou. I'm not sure if that's what put it in my head or not, but reading The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant felt a bit like reading a play and the same problem I often have with that medium, finding it difficult to tell all the characters apart without a visual, I had here.

The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant is the day in the life of a Montreal street in 1942. The book flows in and out of the lives of various characters (including a cat!), most of whom intersect at some point or another. The pervading tone is one of melancholia; everyone seems to feel judged unfairly by everyone else, but there are flashes of humor and danger as well. It's not particularly plot heavy, but it's interesting, even poignant at times. Not all lives are created equal of course and some of the problems I had with remembering who was who simply came down to some being less compelling than others. The prostitutes were interesting. The elderly mother was interesting. The cat and the family of ghost sisters were interesting. The others, not so much. Oddly, the titular character seemed no more important than anyone else. She seems like the kind of character book clubs would discuss, debating why Tremblay singled her out for the title role. Does she symbolize something?

All in all, not an unpleasant read, but I have a feeling that it would have grown tedious had it gone on much longer.

1 comment:

Eric P said...

This is actually the first of a five-volume set about the family. I've only read this one, though some day I'll get around to the others. In any case, the fat woman is Michel Tremblay's slightly-fictionalized mother. I'm pretty sure that the baby that she is carrying is Michel. If I recall, he was the youngest of the family. One of the great tragedies of his life was that his mother died before he achieved success (and thus many of his works memorialize her to some extent).