“Over a vast yet beautifully coherent canvas, Vandal Love
follows the panic and privilege of human longing through an amazing coalition of loneliness and adaptation. These characters — injured but unbowed, broken but enduring — introduce a gifted new writer. Béchard’s surety of voice and confident narrative span declare a first rate novel and an eloquent debut.” — Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book, jury comments
is a generational novel with a difference. It has a magical touch. . . . Complex, perplexing, but lyrical, this is a novel that will sweep you away with its scope, energy and ambition. Only time will tell if Vandal Love
is remembered in a decade. My guess is yes.” —The Sun Times
“Béchard is an ambitious and skillful storyteller. His specialty is finding words to describe longing. . . . The cover blurb for Vandal Love
says it is about the power of love, but I thought is was more about blood: what our veins inherit, and how it both holds and haunts us.” —Georgia Straight
“Masterful storytelling and heartbreakingly beautiful writing--Vandal Love
delivers this and more in an epic tale of love, family, and country. I could not put it down, and when the journey finally ended, I refused to lend my copy and instead bought extras to spread the joy.” -- Loung Ung, author of Lucky Child
and First They Killed My Father
"The word 'masterpiece' is not to be used lightly, but one is tempted in the case of Vandal Love
, for the scope of its ambition, its originality, and its muscular use of language conjure a young Faulkner, Garcia Marquez, or Steinbeck." -- Katherine Min, author of Secondhand World
“Although Vandal Love
is a first novel, it reads as smoothly as if [Béchard] had a library to his name – mature, lyrical, tactile and at times simple, cruel and sweet. . . . No doubt, the giant steps this young writer has taken will set him far ahead on his literary path.” – Calgary Herald
(Interview, 28 Jan 2006)
"D.Y. Béchard surpasses Kerouac in his consciousness of the French as part of a larger people, how their struggle is socially and politically situated rather than strictly personal ... Vandal Love
seems like a trans-generational On the Road
, which, also infused with a kind of inherited defeatism, was the perfect Americanized expression of an unexamined Existentialism, the ultimate Beat utterance."
—Michel Basilieres, The Globe and Mail
"Lyrical, compelling, moving (both figuratively and literally) the characters in Vandal Love
drift and converge and procreate and take flight like birds on the wing."
—Margaret MacPherson, Edmonton Journal
"The novel beautifully evokes that eternal theme of the outsider, the outcast, the freak, in the search to find a place, albeit more of the soul than of the corporeal, that can be called home."
—Laurel Smith, Quill and Quire
"One part Jack Kerouac, one part William Faulkner, D.Y. Béchard has shaped Vandal Love
into a heartfelt and sweeping narrative that follows the quest of damaged personalities who seek to become whole again. A searching and mystical novel imbued with sensitivity and grace, it has thrust Béchard centre stage as an up-and-coming literary contender and a new voice to be reckoned with."
—M.J. Stone, The Hour
is a point of reference for authors who set out to tackle the challenges of writing a multigenerational story. . . He shines in his ability not only to bridge the generation gap but to connect the two "books" . . . The effect is near seamless, the unfolding of events written with surgical precision. It would be a shame if Béchard is not recognized for the new voice and talent that he is."
—Tyler Bradley, Vancouver Sun
"The author weaves his lyrical and image-rich prose through the pages of Vandal Love
with the audacity of a virtuoso. Béchard seems poised to walk among the giants of the Canadian literary scene."
—Dan Naccarato, Now
"D.Y. Béchard tells a grand, sprawling story that spans five generations in the life of a Quebec family. Béchard's writing at its strongest flows in sonorous passages, it evokes memorable landscapes, natural and urban, and examines the enduring qualities of a family separated by both time and distance... Béchard's manic imagination contains echoes of the magic realism of the South American master Gabriel Garcia Marquez or, closer to home, the tall tales of western Canadian literary heavyweight Robert Kroetsch Writing in English "
–Glenn Bergen, Winnipeg Free Press
"Readers who find this sort of thing poetically true no doubt also love the more fanciful narratives of Michael Ondaatje and Jane Urquhart ."–
Philip Marchand, Toronto Star
"Its themes are loss and displacement, its style lyrical and ambition considerable. It makes, in other words, quite a first impression. A young writer needs luck to have this kind of material at hand and guts to pursue it...it has the feel of a novel that's been a lifetime in the making...There's a tinge of Faulkner's defeated South in Vandal Love
–Joel Yanofsky, Montreal Gazette
"Béchard's improvised, riff-heavy narrative resembles Salman Rushdie more than Gabria Garcia Marquez, as it plays with the idea of exile as both a genetic inheritance and a spiritual purgatory. Disconnected from their heritage and scattered across the continent, the Herv és are nevertheless haunted by the same spritual vacuum."
–Kevin Wong, National Post
is a spectacular beginning to D.Y. Béchard's writing career...There's something of the storytelling of E. Annie Proulx here; brutal yet tender, simple yet incredibly moving."
–Claire Stirling, Calgary Herald
“In Vandal Love
D.Y. Béchard has re-invented the generational novel with innovative brilliance. The book has all the quirky depth of a great HBO series and a line-to-line literary energy that is very rare. This is an enormously impressive debut by a clearly gifted writer.”
—Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
is a lyrical, generational story of a family haunted by God who is not above, but is nature — who is in the chromosomes that make for big and small, strong and weak, who is inside exquisitely cruel and hard journeys, who is the squeak of snow under boots in Quebec, or a mosquitoed sweat on a bare, muscled boxer in Louisiana. Reminiscent of Proulx and Doctorow in both sweep and grace of prose, it is hard to believe that Vandal Love
, so elegant and accomplished, is only Bechard's first novel.”
—Dagoberto Gilb, Author of The Magic of Blood
and Woodcuts of WomenFrom the Hardcover edition.
Praise for Vandal Love:
"Don't think of Vandal Love as a page-turner. It's a novel you'll want to read slowly, savoring prose that's both lyrical and gritty, able to evoke big emotions with exquisite intimacy. Deni Y. Béchard's masterful debut sweeps through North America from rural early-20th-century Quebec to an ashram in 21st-century-New Mexico, following several generations of a French-Canadian family in which 'children were born alternately brutes or runts.' Family patriarch Hervé Hervé, a farmer and fisherman who speaks of his larger children as 'keepers' (some of the small ones he actually gives away), 'had become as hard as the country...so that it was he his children now fled.' As Herve's progeny scatter south and west from Quebec, each is driven by a visceral longing to connect, whether to God or mere humans. But whatever happiness they manage to find never lasts long. Inevitably Hervé's descendants leave, or are left by, anyone who could soothe their loneliness. And the path to God is, as one character comes to realize, 'the least sure of all roads.' If this unusual story--like its characters--occasionally seems to wander without a clear destination, the final stunningly poignant pages prove that Béchard knew exactly where he was taking us all along."
O, The Oprah Magazine
"This dreamlike novel spans five generations in the lives of a French-Canadian family of misfits....a strange and beautiful first novel...built sentence by luminous, surprising sentence."
Brigitte Frase, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"In this moving and entertaining debut, the Hervé family suffers from a genetic quirkor divine maladythat results in their children growing into towering brutes or sickly runts. In mid-20thcentury Quebec, the hard drinking patriarch Hervé Hervé reduces his family by lendingor simply giving awaythe runts, while keeping the giants for labor. Set both in Canada and several American states, from Maine to New Mexico, and spanning more than half a century, the novel divides itself between the isolated introspective pugilist giant Jude, and François, a sociable, religious runt. Though the two Hervé brothers are very different in appearance, they both feel the need to strike out alone, creating their own families and identities in transcontinental voyages. This is both a road novel and a voyage through time, with each of the book’s two parts covering the lifetimes of several family members in an examination of the Hervé lineage. Ruminations abound on sex, violence, and the bonds between people. Though Béchard (Cures for Hunger, a memoir) has a journalism background, this fiction debut, unfolding in punchy prose, recalls Márquez with a French-Canadian twist. "
Publishers Weekly (starred)
"Béchard has a voice and a vision all his own, both tough-minded and passionately emotional."
"A family mythos reminiscent of Faulkner."
Jonathan Fullmer, Booklist
An enormously impressive debut by a clearly gifted writer.”
Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent From A Strange Mountain
Vandal Loveintroduces a gifted new writer. Béchard’s surety of voice and confident narrative span declare a first rate novel and an eloquent debut.”
Commonwealth Judging Panel
Reminiscent of Proulx and Doctorow in both sweep and grace of prose, it is hard to believe that Vandal Love, so elegant and accomplished, is only Béchard's first novel.”
Dagoberto Gilb, Author of The Magic of Blood and Woodcuts of Women
The word 'masterpiece' is not to be used lightly, but one is tempted in the case of Vandal Love, for the scope of its ambition, its originality, and its muscular use of language conjure a young Faulkner, Garcia Marquez, or Steinbeck.”
Katherine Min, author of Secondhand World
Masterful storytelling and heartbreakingly beautiful writingVandal Love delivers this and more in an epic tale of love, family, and country. I could not put it down, and when the journey finally ended, I refused to lend my copy and instead bought extras to spread the joy.”
Loung Ung, author of Lucky Child and First They Killed My Father
Béchard's writing, at its strongest, flows in sonorous passages, evokes memorable landscapes, natural and urban, examines the enduring qualities of a family separated by both time and distance, and contains echoes of the magic realism of the South American master Gabriel García Márquez.”
Winnipeg Free Press
Deni Y. Béchard surpasses Kerouac in his consciousness of the French as part of a larger people, how their struggle is socially and politically situated rather than strictly personal . . . Vandal Love seems like a trans-generational On the Road, which, also infused with a kind of inherited defeatism, was the perfect Americanized expression of an unexamined Existentialism, the ultimate Beat utterance.”
The Globe and Mail
Although Vandal Love is a first novel, it reads as smoothly as if Béchard had a library to his name--mature, lyrical, tactile and at times simple, cruel and sweet. No doubt, the giant steps this young writer has taken will set him far ahead on his literary path.”
Highly original, poetically charged, compelling, beautifully crafted, visceral, sonorous, visionary. . . . Béchard's prose, at once lyrical and tight, is mesmerizing, with resonances of Marquez, Faulkner, and Ondaatjeyet it is very much Béchard's own. Vandal Love is a saga of family and history, love and isolation, strength and vulnerability, suffering and redemption.”
Off The Shelf, Boston Globe book blog
Praise for Cures for Hunger
"Béchard's sad and moving memoir is all about secrets and regret and, ultimately, finding peace."
Jim Carmin, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"A poignant but rigorously unsentimental account of hard-won maturity."
"A coming-of-age story of lost innocence, violence, and tenderness by a writer obsessed with the man who influenced him the most but was there the least."
Jonathan Fullmer, Booklist
"In Cures For Hunger, Deni Y. Bechard has created a moving story of rootlessness, rebellion, lost love, criminal daring, regret, and restless searching. Driven above all by the need to grasp his father's secrets, he has written his narrative in skillful, resonant prose graced with a subtle tone of obsession and longing."
Leonard Gardner, author of Fat City
"This powerful and haunting memoir is a must-read for anyone who has ever struggled to uncover their identity within the shadow of a parent. Written in exquisitely sharp prose, Béchard combs through his attempt to understand his father's mysterious existence with inspiring precision. This book is huge and achingly true."
Claire Bidwell Smith, author of The Rules of Inheritance
"You haven't read a story like this one, even if your father was the kind of magnificent scoundrel you only find in Russian novels. Béchard is the rare writer who knows the secret to telling the true story. Just because the end is clear doesn't mean the bets are off."
Marlon James, author of The Book of Night Women
Béchard writes that prison taught his father the nature of the self, the way it can be shaped and hardened.’ As in a great novel, this darkly comic and lyrical memoir demonstrates the shaping of its author, who suffers the wreckage of his father's life, yet manages to salvage all the beauty of its desperate freedoms. Béchard's poetic gifts give voice to the outsiders of society, and make them glow with humanity and love.”
Elizabeth McKenzie, author of Stop That Girl
Cures for Hunger is the best book I picked up at Winter Institute 7, and that alone would have made the trip worth it. The author tells the story of his extraordinary upbringing in British Columbia mostly influenced by a father who enjoyed cheating death by doing everything from racing trains at railroad crossings to fighting anyone who crossed him. The even wilder deeds of his father’s past couldn’t be kept secret, and as they were slowly revealed, this loving and bizarre Dad shaped the life of his son. Deni Bechard has done a masterful job of taking all that life has dealt him, accepting it and analyzing it in a fascinating piece of literature. I found myself alternating between cringing and laughing with each page.
Peter Schertz, Maria’s Bookshop, Durango, CO
"Deni Y. Bachard's early childhood in British Columbia was filled with a Tom Sawyerish adventure filled lifestyle that most boys could only dream of. His idol during this time was his father Andre, a no nonsense, rough around the edges French Canadian whose shady past was always only a step behind him. After a shocking split between his parents, Deni's new life with his mother in America leaves much to be desired. His inner battle between the two worlds he cherishes has him constantly guessing which path to take. Only through choosing his own way does he discover that the life he always wanted is far from the life he truly needs."
Matt Falvey, Next Chapter Bookshop, Mequon, WI