Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
characters in many of the other tales, including 'Les aurores montré-
ales,' which lends the collection its title and ultimate meaning.
A play on 'les aurores boréales,' the northern lights, the substitution of
'montréales' underscores the city's distinctive northern identity, linked
to snow throughout the collection, as is Quebec throughout this chap-
ter. And, although the six stories we have looked at lack the geo-
graphic specificity of the remaining ones, they are like the boulevards
running through and linking the network of ethnic neighbourhoods
featured in the other tales, most of which are located, to be sure east
of the boulevard Saint-Laurent, which separates the English commu-
nity from the French. 37 Due also, however, to the ethnic variety of the
protagonists, there is ample, even equal reference to places around
the globe - from Haiti, to Greece, to Shanghai - which, according to
the geographer Luc Bureau, have a significance equal to those in the
immediate setting (176-7). Befitting the notion of diversity and mul-
ticulturalism underlying the collection, Proulx depicts Montreal less
as a closed inner circle than as a hub radiating out towards its inter-
national circumferance.
The meaning of 'aurores' is revealed in the novella whose title con-
tains it, 38 as the main character and centre of vision, Laurel, a would-be
writer, removes his notebook from his backpack: 'La lumière bouge
sur le papier vierge et allume, s'il la regarde longtemps sans ciller, des
ombres colorées qui ressemblent à des aurores boréales. Tout à coup, le
titre de son livre lui apparaît, fulgurant sur la page blanche … Son livre
s'appellera Les Aurores montréales , parce que Montréal est une ville qui
n'arrête pas de changer … une ville qui additionne tellement de nou-
veaux visages que l'on perd toujours celui que l'on croyait enfin con-
naître.' (163-4; The light moves on the virgin paper and, if he looks at
it a long time without blinking, fires coloured shadows that look like
aurora borealis. Suddenly the title of his book appears to him, flashing
on the white page … his book will be called Aurora Montrealis, be-
cause … Montreal is a city that never stops changing … a city that adds
so many new faces that we always lose the one we finally thought we
knew [143].) The narrator regrets, even resents, these changes, which
usually involve faces of different colours, until he is 'welcomed' to
Montreal by a Greek rollerblader he had always seen as his arch-
enemy, which forces him to abandon his book, the very book, of course
that Monique Proulx writes in defence of diversity, in praise of varied
colours, and where 'aurores' also radiates with its connotation of
'dawns,' of new beginnings. As de Vaucher summarizes it, 'par le biais
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