Yesterday, at the Hotel Clarendon
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Carla Carlson is at the Hotel Clarendon in Quebec City trying to finish a novel. Nearby, a woman, preoccupied with sadness and infatuated with her boss, catalogues antiquities at the Museum of Civilization. Every night, the two women meet at the hotel bar and talk – about childhood and parents and landscapes, about time and art, about Descartes and Francis Bacon and writing.
When Yesterday, at the Hotel Clarendon appeared in French (as Hier), the media called it the pinnacle of Brossard’s remarkable forty-year literary career. From its intersection of four women emerges a kind of art installation, a lively read in which life and death and the vertigo of ruins tangle themselves together to say something about history and desire and art.
she recalled the Land Art that Lorraine was so crazy about and which had prompted their trips to Arizona and New Mexico. There they went looking for installations, sculptures, uncanny shapes, questioning the motivations, pride and merit of the men and women who practiced this outdoor art. A labour-intensive never-before-seen art full of artists’ little fists rammed into the belly of a mountain. Cubes, rods and spirals drawn child-size in the vast, blinding desert. This unusual game went on and
tiny holes of city lights glimmering in a room, a living room or a kitchen. It’s the magic of lighting that brings the landscape of reality into existence. Here, reality is absolutely theatrical. That is the wager made. On the faces, the lighting can be either blunt or caressing. The sound: a digital soundtrack composed of murmurs, whispers, breathing and heartbeats. A few isolated words, repeated like serial patterns. Jazz tunes hang in the air, now and then a melody. The last notes of
called caryatids, canephoras or bilobate rose windows. I told many of these stories again when my daughter was born, and telling them allowed me to travel over and over. SCENE SIX CARLA: You should have told me a bit more about Simone Lambert. I find her interesting as a woman and as a character. She’s a wounded woman. I like wounded women. They’re alive, moving. I’m not being ironic. It’s true. They move me. A wounded woman there in front of you, existing, moving her lips in the name of
(silence) Yes, masturbating – an action verb that puts you back in touch with yourself and with the faculty of imagining improbable, unmentionable scenes, sometimes grotesque. At Princeton, girls masturbated a lot before exams. Some evenings it was contagious. Long silence. FADE OUT. FADE IN. The four women are sitting around a card table. They have ordered food, and on the table there is a bottle of champagne as well as olives and smoked salmon. CARLA I’m happy you decided to
the souls still asleep at this early hour, who in a few hours will go and stock up on the basics and lose their ability to revolt by hanging around the Galeries Sainte-Foy mall. Without my mother’s silence I am left wide open to the static noise that amplifies the coward in each one of us. Some time ago, while looking for a book in the museum library, I came upon a typewritten page sticking out of a book about diamond cutting. Prompted by curiosity, I read the first lines. I read and reread.