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Digging deep but coming up short

by Amanda L. Shore June 6, 2012
Digging deep but coming up short

Available for $14.95 online at kasinihouseartshop.com

It’s the crack of noon, so roll yourself out of bed, brew a cup of extra strong tea and settle in with the philosophically melancholy characters featured in Guillaume Morissette’s debut collection of stories and poems, I Am My Own Betrayal.

Comprised of five short stories and ten poems, the Concordia student’s first collection is beautifully written but thematically stale. The main characters featured in each piece, are all obsessed with themselves, they wax poetically and philosophically on the staleness that is their day to day, moaning about their relationships or lack thereof.

Although anyone who’s ever suffered from perpetual or occasional depression will be able to relate to these sentiments, the novelty of Morissette’s crafted observational insight into melancholy and anxiety wears thin with repetition.

The writing is of high literary quality. Morissette is a master of the clever metaphor and visual metonymy, offering a unique take on the everyday. He astutely comments on everything from beer cans to the bustling metropolis of Montreal with candor and wit.

“We bought beer earlier and the beer we bought seems to have awarded itself a blue ribbon, for prettiest beer maybe,” writes Morissette.

In Vaster emptiness achieved, a story about a friendship carried out mainly through email, it is punctuated by one liners, reminiscent of facebook status updates. The narrator and his friend Anika, write to each other in beautifully insightful, melodious style, which is fun to read, but makes you wonder whether there are real people who talk this way, or if Morissette has taken literary license in appropriating dialogue to fit his style of writing.

It is Morissette’s style of writing that makes the collection worth reading. He crafts wonderfully vivid and interesting descriptions, such as how the world looks when you’re tipsy from drinking too large a pitcher of beer.

“The room is slowly starting to go diagonal, zig-zags. it comes at you, leaves and then comes at you again, like a game of ball-in-a-cup in which the ball is the room.” This excerpt comes from the story Banhood, which again plays with the theme of a young person feeling inadequate and generally despondent.

Concordia student and author Guillaume Morissette,

Morissette’s poems also play with this theme: in the poem I hate myself, he writes “a purpose is a person but backwards; if there’s a place where I belong I have already ruined it.”

The only poem where the narrator gives a concrete reason for being depressed is Poems are for no one, very long poems are for themselves, where the narrator is lamenting over a failed relationship. Morissette brings freshness to the classic poetry theme by appropriating the narrator’s feelings of longing to the bed.

my bed is a mess, it misses you. it’s been
having nightmares about being suffocated to
death with a red pillow. to calm the bed down
I have read the bed a bedtime story of printed-out
e-zine articles on ways to overcome a heartbreak.

I Am My Own Betrayal, is a collection that clearly demonstrates Morissette’s literary talent, but could use a little thematic variation and maybe a few more rays of sunshine.

I Am My Own Betrayal is available for purchase at Maison Kasini, suite 408 in the Belgo and online at http://kasinihouseartshop.com/magazine/

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