Nineteen years old, free of prospects, and inescapably famous, the twins Nicholas and Nouschka Tremblay are trying to outrun the notoriety of their father, a French-Canadian Serge Gainsbourg with a genius for the absurd and for winding up in prison. “Back in the day, he could come home from a show with a paper bag filled with women’s underwear. Outside of Québec nobody had even heard of him, naturally. Québec needed stars badly.”
Since the twins were little, Étienne has made them part of his unashamed seduction of the province, parading them on talk shows and then dumping them with their decrepit grandfather while he disappeared into some festive squalor. Now Étienne is washed up and the twins are making their own almost-grown-up messes, with every misstep landing on the front pages of the tabloid Allo Police. Nouschka not only needs to leave her childhood behind; she also has to leave her brother, whose increasingly erratic decisions might take her down with him.
About the Author
Heather O’Neill is a contributor to This American Life, and her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, among other publications. Her novel Lullabies for Little Criminals, an international bestseller, won the Paragraphe Hugh McLennan Prize for Fiction and the Canada Reads competition in 2007; was short-listed for six prizes, including the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Governor General’s Literary Award; and was long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. She lives in Montreal, Canada.
O’Neill’s style and storytelling is funny and original, gritty and humane. The story dips, heaves and hurtles through the unsettled world of the twins in Montreal with their unreliable parentage, and the unstable political backdrop with metaphors stitched throughout the narrative. The exuberant prose and endearing characters draw the reader into a different world, perhaps more under the radar than we usually see, or hear about.