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Simon’s Appointment | The Press

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The writer Simon Roy tells me about a rather sadistic scientific experiment, that of Curt Richter in the 1950s, where a rat was immersed in a mouthpiece of water to watch it swim until it drowned. The rat struggled for about 15 minutes before giving up. More if we took him out of the water after 15 minutes, sponged him up, reassured him and then put him back in the water, he couldn’t fight… for 60 hours.

Posted yesterday at 7:15 a.m.

Hope, which can be the cruellest thing in the world, is essential to the will to live, even when one is condemned. In September 2021, for the release of his novel Made by another, I believed that our interview was the last, because Simon had an aggressive brain cancer, for fanl he had been developed. Well no. Simon returns with a new book, But the end of the worldhis fourth, written in a hurry because the cancer is also back, and this time it is inoperable.

“I surprise myself,” he said. Each book, basically, is the last. I shouldn’t even talk to you, because I should be dead, according to the predictions. I work with projects. If I had no plans, I would be let down. »

The story of Richter’s rat comes from the book by his wife Marianne Marquis-Gravel, the first she will publish in the fall with Leméac and which tells what they have both been through since the fatal diagnosis. This outing is one of the most important appointments in Simon’s personal calendar, which places pebbles in the future as in the tale of Tom Thumb. Not only to find his way, more also to pursue it.

In But the end of the worldSimon Roy considers with me a privilege to be able to organize his death, unlike those who die described, without having ever seen anything coming.

“I live in a terrifying reality, but so beautiful. I swear I’ve never been happier than I’ve been in 15 months. The idea of ​​my death gives me an incredible boost of life. I am in a state of gratitude. » More he admits that there is a dark side to all of this, when he thinks of what he will not live with his two children, aged 16 and 20, what Marianne will live without him, and probably with a other . They are so in love, he tells me, that he would have been ready to jump into the adventure of another child.

This is not the first time that Simon Roy surprises me, and worries me, two-I add. I have been since his first novel, My Kubrick Red Lifewhere he mixed his analysis of the film the brilliant of Stanley Kubrick and the personal tragedy of his mother’s suicide.

Our first interview, seeing him overwhelmed by the fault towards the one who gave him life, I had said to him: “But Simon, it is you, the child, in this dynamic. You are not responsible. His misty gaze pierced me, I remember it like it was yesterday.

“It was boredom that led me to write, 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 has come to his fourth book, and I don’t think he’s bored at the moment.

In My Kubrick Red Life, he speaks of his “macabre genealogy”, of the “metastases of the soul” of his mother, of the fact that one cannot inject oneself in the hospital with the desire to live. After always, between a mythomaniac father and a mother who had mental health problems, he sits in danger, like the little boy in the Overlook hotel of the brilliant. “Some do not hesitate to invest fortunes in long-term therapies,” he wrote. For my part, I clumsily try to convince myself that it is possible to win the Combat, to defeat the Minotaur hidden at the very heart of the labyrinth, going so far as to spit in the eye of death. »

I have nothing of an esoteric mind, but I sometimes wonder if a crack can extend a family fault into the body of its descendants. He himself, a very rational type, sees omens in his early writings.

The labyrinth, I’m right in it, 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 planned several short-term appointments, which are for him so many miracles to come in time. Like the recent show by Nick Cave, who dedicated a song to him. He wants to see the shows of Sigur Rós, Julien Clerc, Charlebois, take advantage of the release of his book and go to the launch of Marianne, in addition to organizing regular meetings with friends, some of whom he has not seen after decades.

fear and hope

In But the end of the worldtrue to his style in fragments, where seemingly unrelated subjects collide – something that comes to him from Stephen King, the author of the brilliant – it blends the story of Orson Welles’ famous radio adaptation of War of the Worlds in 1938, the urban legend of a general panic in the United States over the fake alien invasion, the healer gifts from his uncle, the experiences of those who lived the afterlife, and this unbelievable chance: the child of the doctor who will be in charge of medical assistance in dying when the time comes for Simon to do so has the same cancer as him, in the same place of the brain, which gives the last and most poignant chapter of the free.

The driving force behind all of this? “Fear,” replies. And, of course, espor.

Death is what awaits us all, the more I feel that people who, like Simon, are too close to knowing it live in a hyperrealistic parallel reality, and that the healthy live in a fiction. Maybe we even lived in a fiction until the book wakes us up – we must not forget that Simon Roy was a literature teacher very appreciated by CEGEP students.

A few weeks ago, Simon Roy invited me, with my friend, on a weekend with him and Marianne, and other friends, in a chalet in Charlevoix. Cellule is one of the meetings he organizes; he even planned his last meal with relatives. “And I’m going to 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 want it to continue so badly. Jean Ferrat’s song Life is Beautiful, looks like I wrote it. »

Simon Roy compels me to write that this is not our last conversation. It also forces me to hope for this meeting in Charlevoix. “We’re going to have fun,” tell me, as if to reassure me, when it’s him who has 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. »

But the end of the world

But the end of the world

Great Freedom

144pages

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