“The penances” of Alex Viens: violence as a legacy
Author Alex Viens
Alex Viens' first novel, Penances aptly depicts a father-daughter relationship marked by violence and makes a powerful voice heard, fully assumed.
In this fast-paced story, Jules, 24, visits his father, Denis, an “old < em>punk charismatic who frightens as much as he fascinates”, and whom she has not seen for ten years, in order to give him a mysterious little box.
Denis insisting that his daughter share a meal with him, what was announced as a brief meeting finally stretches into an evening full of twists and turns. The walls of Denis's small apartment gradually closing in on Jules, the tension increases as the wounds of a childhood and adolescence marked by the unpredictable temperament of the father are awakened.
Jules is still looking for his words. She looks for the right terms, those who are not afraid of anything, not even the truth. Jules would like to acquire an irreproachable vocabulary, because the one that has been bequeathed to him betrays his heritage – lack of education, poverty, laziness.
Alex Viens, Penances
Through dense and short chapters punctuated by incisive dialogues, transmitting a powerful emotional charge, Penancesexplores with nuance the complex theme of family heritage. This is framed by poverty and abusive relationships, as eloquently illustrated by the flashbacks, selected pieces from the past adding depth to the conflicting father-daughter dynamics staged in the plot. main narrative.
In this novel that looks like a camera, the precise, almost raw writing of Alex Viens plays a leading role, the violence and cultural poverty in which Jules grew up echoing in particular in the swear words and other insults that the characters exchange.
The cover of the novel Les pénitences, by Alex Viens
Courtesy Éditions du Cheval d’august
But the language does not testify only to a legacy; it also represents, in Les pénitences, the way by which a form of liberation, even a catharsis, can occur. Like Jules, who “looks for the right terms, those who are not afraid of anything, not even the truth”, Alex Viens manages to name and describe with precision the whole range of emotions – shame , guilt, anger, but also a few bursts of nostalgic joy – through which its protagonist tries to free herself from the suffocating influence of her father.
The novel Les pénitences , by Alex Viens, published by Éditions du Cheval d'August, is available in bookstores.