Simon’s Dates | The press

Writer Simon Roy tells me about a rather sadistic scientific experiment, that of Curt Richter in the 1950s, in which a rat was dunked in a jug of water to watch it swim until it drowned. The rat struggled for about 15 minutes before giving up. But if we get him out of the water after 15 minutes, wipe him with a sponge, calm him down, and then put him back in the water, he could fight…for 60 hours.

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Hope, which can be the cruellest thing in the world, is essential to the will to live even when condemned. In September 2021 for the publication of his novel Made by someone else, I thought our interview was the last because Simon was suffering from an aggressive brain tumor for which he had surgery. Well no. Simon returns with a new book, my end of the worldhis fourth, written in a hurry because the cancer is back too, and this time it’s inoperable.

“I surprise myself,” he said. Every book is basically the last. I wasn’t even supposed to speak to you because the predictions were that I should be dead. I work with projects. If I hadn’t had plans, I would have let myself sink. »

The story of Richter’s rat comes from his wife Marianne Marquis-Gravel’s book, the first she will publish with Leméac this fall, which chronicles what the two have been through since the fatal diagnosis. This outing is one of the most important dates in Simon’s personal calendar, which, like in the Tom Thumb story, places stones in the future. Not only to find his way back, but to follow him.

In my end of the worldSimon Roy considers it a privilege to be able to organize his death, unlike those who die suddenly without ever seeing anything coming.

“I live in a frightening reality, but so beautiful. I swear I’ve never been happier than I have been in the past 15 months. The thought of my death gives me an incredible life boost. I’m in a state of gratitude. » But he admits there’s also a dark side to thinking about what he won’t live with his two children, aged 16 and 20, what Marianne will live without him and probably with someone else. They are so in love, he tells me, that he would have been willing to embark on another child’s adventure.

This isn’t the first time Simon Roy has surprised and disturbed me, I must add. I’ve been since his first novel My Kubrick Red Lifewhere he mixed his analysis of the film The glow by Stanley Kubrick and the personal tragedy of his mother’s suicide.

When we first met, when I saw him overcome with guilt towards the one who gave him life, I said to him, “But Simon, you are the child in this dynamic. You are not responsible. His misty gaze pierced me, I remember it like it was yesterday.

“Boredom got me into writing,” he said in 2014. Boredom and Tragedy. It may be the only book I will ever write in my life. At the limit, I almost wish…”

Simon Roy is down to his fourth book and I don’t think he’s bored at the moment.

In My Kubrick Red Life, he spoke of his “macabre genealogy”, of his mother’s “soul metastases”, of the fact that a love of life cannot be injected into the hospital. Between a mythomaniac father and a mother with mental health issues, he’d always felt in danger, like the little boy at the Overlook Hotel The glow. “Some do not hesitate to invest fortunes in long-term therapies,” he wrote. For my part, I’m awkwardly trying to convince myself that it’s possible to win the fight, defeat the minotaur hiding in the heart of the labyrinth, even going so far as to spit in death’s eye. »

I don’t have an esoteric mind, but sometimes I wonder if a family rift can permeate a flaw into the body of its offspring. He himself, a very rational type, sees omens in his early writings.

The labyrinth, I’m in the middle with my illness and I’m trying to find the way. I think I find it through art, through projects, through love.

Simon Roy

Simon Roy has scheduled several short-term appointments, which are many a time saver for him. Like Nick Cave’s recent show, who dedicated a song to him. He wants to see the shows of Sigur Rós, Julien Clerc, Charlebois, take advantage of the publication of his book and go to the premiere of Marianne, also organize regular meetings with friends, some of whom he hasn’t seen in decades.

fear and hope

In my end of the worldtrue to his style in fragments where seemingly unrelated themes clash – something credited to him by Stephen King, author of The glow – it mixes up the story of the famous radio adaptation by Orson Welles war of the Worlds 1938, the urban legend of a general panic in the United States over the false alien invasion, his uncle’s healing gifts, the afterlife experiences, and this incredible coincidence: the child of the doctor who will be in charge of medical assistance in dying when the time has come for Simon has the same cancer as he does, in the same part of the brain, which is the final and most poignant chapter of the book.

The driving force behind it? “Fear,” he replies. And of course hope.

Death awaits us all, but I feel like people too close to knowing it, like Simon, live in a hyper-realistic parallel reality and the sane live in a fiction. We may even live in fiction until books wake us up – we must not forget that Simon Roy was a literature teacher much appreciated by CEGEP students.

A few weeks ago Simon Roy invited me with my friend, to a weekend with him and Marianne and other friends in a chalet in Charlevoix. This is part of the appointments he organizes; he even planned his last meal with relatives. “And I treat myself to an ostie of a good bottle of wine,” he laughs. I deal with my death. That’s the positive side. The negative side is that I wish so badly that it would continue. Song by Jean Ferrat life is beautiful, looks like I wrote it. »

Simon Roy forces me to write that this is not our last conversation. It also forces me to hope for that meeting in Charlevoix. “We’re going to have fun,” he told me, as if to reassure me, when it was he who had a gun to his head. But his goal is very clear: “I don’t want people to be relieved by my death. I want people to miss me and miss me. »

my end of the world

my end of the world

lot of freedom

144 pages

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