Sophie Welcome | Lose yourself or find yourself

Since And in the worst case, we get marriedpublished in 2012, I love how Sophie Bienvenu has the gift of gently crushing our hearts, with poignant stories almost always told through her characters’ inner monologues.

Posted at 8:15am

i was a hero, his new novel, stays in that direction as we find ourselves in the mind of Yvan, an alcoholic sixty-year-old who, depending on his choices, will sober up or not, reconnect with his daughter or not. The worst and best scenarios coexist in this book, which is heavily inspired by Sophie Bienvenu’s own relationship with her father.

Since we last saw each other, water has flowed under the bridge for the release of Look for Sam in 2014, which remains in his eyes his greatest literary achievement, a book he always talks about. Another sad and touching story in which a young homeless man is desperately looking for his dog – yes, Sophie Bienvenu has an affection for the disadvantaged.

But one thing is certain: she has never been so happy in her life that she feared she would lose interest in writing. A few years ago, when she left France to settle in Quebec, she found success and became a screenwriter – And in the worst case, we get married was brought to the screen by Léa Pool, Look for Sam and Around them develop – and found love. Being diagnosed with Asperger’s also clarified a few things.

“I learned from this book that I can write happily, that I can draw on my experiences without closing the door afterwards,” she admits.

But happiness is fragile, she knows that. i was a hero was born from abandoning a manuscript she didn’t like when she started writing about a man who has failed in his life and who is facing the consequences of his choices. The author must have noticed at the time that she had issues with her father, a repentant alcoholic, with whom she was reconnected after 13 years of silence, that were not entirely clear. Like many little girls, he was his childhood hero, but his inner demons brought their relationship to a halt. “My dad was my favorite person, he wanted me from a very early age when he was 21. I get the impression that he was very lonely, like Yvan, and probably neuro-atypical, like me. He really gave me his full attention for the first few years of my life, we were in a bubble together. It leaves traces. »

Not to mention scars. Breaking up with a father you love but need to protect yourself from because he can’t solve your problems can only hurt. “Yes, actually it is a constant mourning. The person is still alive, you still hope that they will give some sign of life that everything will be fine, but after a while you have to stop hoping for your own survival… and do a lot of therapy! [rires] »

Who is Ivan really?

Today they talk to each other several times a week and have plans for him to cross the Atlantic to come and live with her, partly because he has been sober for seven years and Sophie finds him serious in his attitude. “My father is very clear about what he did wrong, he has no taboos, he knows I wrote this book and it never blocked him. »

For the purposes of fiction, she introduced herself i was a hero how it could happen when everything goes well, but also when everything goes wrong. Besides, as a writer, why would she choose to be Yvan rather than her daughter Gab?

“I used to hate autofiction,” she explains. I found it easy, although it takes tremendous courage, which I don’t have. »

“I’m not able to write a character as close to me as Gabrielle does, writing her in the first person without having a distance. I wouldn’t have wanted to be in the state I was in writing certain tirades from Gabrielle all the time. »

Because Yvan gets his four truths told by his daughter, and also by his girlfriend Miche, whom he treats pretty badly while she does everything to help him. There’s something deeply exciting about this character, who often feels sorry for himself and clings to a street cat he rescued. “What I find fairly common in my experience is this ‘everyone fails me’ type of victimization among people who drink and use. This is something that annoys me to no end. What’s also certain is that I didn’t want to create a totally lovable character like Mathieu in Look for Sam, if you don’t have any mistakes, you’re just unlucky. Yvan is an asshole, sometimes not smart, a bit misogynistic and grossly hostile. I wanted to be loved with his weaknesses. »

In all of Sophie Bienvenu’s books there are animals that she loves very much and that are often the focus of her stories. Yvan, in the haze of alcohol, contemplates killing his cat because he’s convinced he won’t be able to do without him, but the truth is that the people he loves most are getting away with their limits from his downward spiral, and that he himself is better when he decides to stand up and face his fears and regrets. “It’s actually the only thing he has left,” says Sophie Bienvenu. This cat is like a surrogate for his daughter, but it’s less responsibility, and the cat won’t tell him his mistakes to his face. His cowardice spoils every opportunity for happiness. That’s a question I often ask myself and didn’t answer in the novel: Does cowardice come from alcohol, or does alcohol come from cowardice? »

In bookstores from 20.09

i was a hero

i was a hero

The August Horse

176 pages

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