Telling and Retelling

Dany Laferrière has a new book out. It’s a(nother) retelling, another version of his arrival in Montreal as a young man, fleeing Haiti and dictatorship, in 1976. I have been fascinated by his constant and continual revising of his life story through varying levels of autobiographical fiction. I also just love his writing.

I sat down to start reading the book the day after I found out I would be saying goodbye to my old blog space. The email had come the morning before, over the holidays, after a great upheaval in my life. It was just one more thing I would have to say goodbye to, to let go of.

This particular version of Laferrière’s arrival story is one that is for a different audience (a newly arrived immigrant to Montreal in 2015) and one that has been informed by 40 years of living in Montreal, 30 years of being a celebrated author, and a handful of years of being a member of the prestigious Académie française, and thus, in the words of the organization, immortal.

So how does all of that, change in audience, change in position, standing, change in life (he’s now a grandfather), change in the world at large, change the story?

I didn’t get very far into it because it trigger too many thoughts, too many emotions, too many parallels with my current situation. It resonated in a way that caused me to have to put the book down and think.

And write.

Because this is my story’s reboot. Five years ago, I started a blog. And now I’m in a completely different place, personally and professionally. And so I have a new space, too.

So my mind wanders back to the literary research I’ve done, and thought I had left behind, and the life I’m currently rebuilding and rewriting. What does it mean to rewrite your life? What does it mean to have your life, in various forms, on various platforms?

I want to go back and read the book now. It feels good to want to read again.