Student Life

A creative storytelling series by Concordia students

Book author Léandre Larouche shares his short story, “Infrastructure”

The main street is walking down my body. I’ve been wandering around for too long now. Thanks to the downtown lights, I see the city’s true colours. I see the uncovered faces of churches, condos, skyscrapers and bridges; and the main street keeps walking down my body. I feel its heavy weight crash onto my soul. There’s something uncanny about being alone. It’s as if everything was more evident, more noteworthy. I notice how run-down our infrastructure is.

Simultaneous construction around the city is at an all-time high; it monopolizes the public space from the street level to the sky. Giant ladders stand still leaned up against building walls, while operating cranes and piles of materials occupy entire parking lots. Every corner, ostracized, finds itself hijacked by construction equipment. But at this time—it’s 11:30 p.m.—nothing’s going on, everything’s frozen. I see my city as a sad, grayish picture, one upon which I’m forced to lay my eyes, sad and bitter and resentful. I didn’t ask to see the city as it is. I didn’t ask to be alone tonight.

There are so many bars here, more than I thought. Never would I have expected to see so many of them, on just one street, although I know this city as no one else does. Nor would I have imagined so many people congregating inside them. My friends and I are of the most loyal, trustworthy regulars to the bars we cherish and call home; we never miss, at least not without a good reason, the rendezvous that has become tradition. We are earnest drinkers, fervent chatters and lovers of people; yet I was blissfully unaware that my city had so many choices.

Just to my left is a brewery I must have gone to a dozen times. As I walk by it, a group of men stand next to the door, smoking cigarettes, chatting and laughing loudly. These rather muscular guys, with beards and all, are clearly having a good time. I pass just in front of them, slow down and turn back. I shoot a glance inside the bar. I can see the people; I can feel the vibe. They walk and talk and drink in the laid-back atmosphere; the bar is half modern, half antique. I want to go in. I want to go in and sit down and have a drink. But I refrain and keep walking.

Further down the main street is another bar which I more or less know. I mean to enter that one too. The dim light at the entrance suggests a tiny ray of hope for me. I approach the door, stare at the doorman, and then decide to back off. This place isn’t for me, after all. I keep walking, paying more and more attention to bars and, as I remain in motion, I see plenty of them. I see plenty but they’re all full. As soon as I look in, if I dare do so, I don’t see any place for me to sneak in. The counters are unwelcoming and so are the tables. There’s no place where I might belong.

I accelerate my pace, throwing glances at bars I pass, and I don’t go in. I note each one’s crowdedness, biting my lips. Panic grows apace, my heart pounding, my head hurting and my mouth becoming dry. I grow dizzy and uncomfortable; I can’t see the surrounding light. After a while, I hit the end of the main street only to find myself faced with deep shame. There must be something wrong with me, I think. All the moments spent with friends in bars rush to my mind. Why am I so lonely? Why am I so abnormal? I thought I was someone.

The only place I can get into is a pizza place, empty and just about to close. Once inside, I sit down, slice in hand, and gaze at a condo building being demolished outside. They’re not done with it yet, but it already looks like a perfect wreck. I bite into my pizza and tomato sauce falls onto my shirt. The cashier is cleaning up behind me. It’s 11:59 p.m. now, and the dawn of a new day threatens me. In a minute, it will be Friday night no more, and I feel like a disappointed disappointment. I wonder what everyone might be doing right now. I sigh. My infrastructure isn’t any better than the city’s.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth

Student Life

Concordia literature student to launch self-published book

The French novel focuses on a quest for identity and contemplates existentialism

Hétérochrome is the story of a CEGEP student who, in addition to being fascinated by literature, cinema and existentialism, is deeply curious about what comes after death.

“He decides to commit suicide to get that answer. But by doing so, he realizes it wasn’t the actual reason why he committed suicide,” explained author and Concordia student Léandre Larouche. “There’s something not quite right in his life […] something deeper, psychologically, that really troubled him.” In his third year of English literature, Larouche will be self-publishing this French novel in October.

According to Larouche, Hétérochrome was a product of his boredom. “When I was in high school, I was really bored. I didn’t know what to do with my time so I started writing.” He said he wrote the first draft as a short story in Grade 10 while he and his classmates were learning how to write short stories. “I wrote it about four to five times, and at some point it really got where I wanted,” Larouche said. The full-length version of the novel was written mostly during his CEGEP years. When he began his degree at Concordia, Larouche said he continued to revisit the story until it felt perfect. “The whole thing took over four years,” he said.

Larouche said he can relate to many writers who feel discouraged about their work and don’t believe they can complete it. “I told myself that if I didn’t finish one thing, I was never going to finish anything else. I just kicked my butt,” he said. “It was a feeling of necessity.” After many attempts at contacting publishing companies, Larouche decided to self-publish his novel. “Over the last year, I’ve been knocking at every publisher’s house and nothing good came out of it,” he said. “I felt that it was necessary to make it available now.”

Yet Larouche urges aspiring writers not to use self-publishing as a way to skirt the hard work of producing a novel. “Don’t see [self-publishing] as the easy way. Ultimately, you want to publish [your work], but you also want to make sure it’s publishable. Make sure it’s high-quality. Be organized.”

Larouche said his goal is to sell about 50 copies of Hétérochrome. “You have to be wise and good at self-promoting,” he added. “And learn to accept that it’s going to be small.” Larouche also recommended that writers who choose to self-publish still ask someone to look over their work and give feedback. One thing he said he should have done was ask strangers (often referred to as ghost readers) to read his book so that they could offer comments without a bias. “Make sure it’s read by many different people, and see where their feedback intersects,” he said.

According to Larouche, the first step towards self-publishing is to have a “polished result that you know is ready for publication.” The second step is to shop around for ways of publishing. The third step involves “taking ownership of all responsibilities,” which is taking the initiative in hiring a copy editor and a graphic designer, according to Larouche. The final step is the marketing phase, said Larouche, “you have to brand and sell your book. When it’s printed, you launch it and try to distribute it to bookshops.”

Larouche also advises writers to read their own work out loud to make sure the ideas flow. “You have to do it, otherwise you’ll never hear the rhythm,” he said. “You have these ideas, but it’s hard to put them into words. […] Make sure that every sentence goes well with each other.”

According to Larouche, one of the biggest challenges he faced during the writing process was his own impatience. You want to see the final result, he said, but it can’t get there without time and hard work. Although writing a French book while studying English literature might sound challenging, Larouche said it didn’t affect his work. “If it did, it would be in a positive way,” he said. “I’ve been educated for more than 20 years in French. I can write more complex sentences [in French] and have it perfectly right.”

The novel draws on themes of identity, coming of age, self-exploration and existentialism, among others that many readers, particularly young adults, will find relatable. Larouche said he believes a major theme in Hétérochrome that his readers will connect with is the idea that “everybody feels different.”

“It’s a lot about who you want to be, who you think you want to be, [who] your parents would like you to be, [who] everybody else wants you to be,” he said. “It’s that struggle. It’s definitely something that everybody thinks about.”

Larouche said he hopes his book will encourage university students to reflect on their pasts and the events that made them who they are today. “It’s written from a CEGEP student’s perspective, and in that sense, [university students] will think about themselves when they were in CEGEP,” he said.

For more information or to purchase the book, visit

Photo by Kirubel Mehari

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