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Comment: This item is in good condition. All pages and covers are readable. There are no stains or tears. Dust jacket is present if applicable. May contain small amounts of writing and/or highlighting. Spine and cover may show signs of wear. May not contain supplementary items. We ship within 1 business day. Big Hearted Books shares its profits with schools, churches and non-profit groups throughout New England. Thank you for your support!
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Cures for Hunger Hardcover – May 15, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“A coming of age story with rare and loving insights into the vulnerable hearts of men and boys -- and the women that help shape them.”
—Shawn Lawrence Otto, The Huffington Post

"Cures for Hunger is a poignant adventure story with a mystery . . . But it is also, perhaps even more so, the story of an artist coming of age. Readers will be reminded of James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man."
—Bill Eichenberger, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"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."
Kirkus Reviews

"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

"Béchard's story is one of personal discovery, and a teasing out of the function of memory: what it keeps, what it loses, and what it saves."
Publishers Weekly

"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 flush with tenderness...much more than a memoir of youthful misadventure, though it contains plenty of that. It’s also an exploration of the oppression of lineage, of familial duty, wanderlust, and perennial dissatisfaction, and the most American theme of them all: personal reinvention."
— Joseph Holt, The Iowa Review

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

Praise for Vandal Love:

"Don't think of Vandal Love as a page-turner. It's a novel you'll want o 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

"In this moving and entertaining debut, the Hervé family suffers from a genetic quirk—or divine malady—that results in their children growing into towering brutes or sickly runts. In mid-20th–century Quebec, the hard drinking patriarch Hervé Hervé reduces his family by lending—or simply giving away—the 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."
Kirkus (starred)

"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 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

“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.”
Calgary Herald

“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 Ondaatje–yet 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 Vandal Love:
"An enormously impressive debut by a clearly gifted writer."
— Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

From the Inside Flap

“As the motor’s vibrations cradled me, I tried to envision my life. I saw the red lines of highways on the map, stretched between cities like threads of torn cloth. I imagined a book that could hold it all together, plains and mountain ranges, dust-drab towns beyond interstates, and somewhere on the far edges, the valley in British Columbia and those nights in Virginia when I snuck out and stalked the highway, trying to fathom where I belonged on this threadbare continent.”

As a child, Deni Béchard has no idea his family is unusual. His mother is from Pittsburgh and there is a vague sense that his father is from Quebec, but when Deni is assigned to complete a family tree in school, he begins to wonder why he doesn’t know more about his father’s side of the family. Who is André Béchard, and why do the police seem so interested in him?

Soon after Deni’s mother leaves his father and decamps with her three children to Virginia, Deni learns that André was once a bank robber, a revelation that sets his imagination on fire. Boyish rebelliousness soon gives way to fantasies of a life of crime. At once attracted and repelled, Deni can’t escape the sense that his father’s life holds the key to understanding himself, and to making sense of his own passions and longings. Only when he goes off to college does Deni begin to unravel the story of his father’s life, eventually returning with it to the Quebecois family that André had fled long ago.

At once an extraordinary family story and a highly unconventional portrait of the artist as a young man, Cures for Hunger is a deeply affecting memoir, by one of the most acclaimed young writers in the world today.

Deni Y. Béchard was born in British Columbia and raised in Canada and the United States. His articles, stories, and translations have appeared in a number of magazines and newspapers. His first novel, Vandal Love, won the 2007 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. He lives in New York City.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Milkweed Editions; First Edition edition (May 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1571313311
  • ISBN-13: 978-1571313317
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,721,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Stephen Hunt on July 9, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sort of an On-the-road meets Motorcycle Diaries meets Another Bullshit Night in Suck City but with the unique quiet Quebecois longing that permeated his first fiction novel (Vandal Love), Deni slowly unfolds his characters, his life, in a rough sketch kinda way, think the early trilogy of Tolstoy (Childhood, Boyhood, & Youth), before Lev fell down the hole of drunken debauchery only to be saved by Sonya. I think had he waited some years to process (or perhaps once he has waited those years) there is a Karenina in this pile of rubble, but a better or more engaging pile of rubble will not be had. Works great as memoir, but I would proffer I felt more truth in the characters of Vandal Love than the real people detailed here. Funny twist of fate, many Tolstoyans (pacifist Christian sect who followed the teachings of Tolstoy and greatly influenced Ghandi and his pacifist teachings) emigrated to Saskatchewan where they set up a colony whose memory of which would years later (in the late 1960s) spur my own father to trek to California in search of communal living...
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Maybe it's me but I just did not "get" this memoir. I wanted to like it because the author put his heart,soul and guts into this book. It's not bad it is just repetetive & didn;t flow quickly enough to hold my interest. And I admit that guys like Andre (the father) annoy the heck out of me -- I do not understand how someone can want to live "at risk" because it makes them feel ALIVE. Not in my gene pool. I think the problem may be that even after years of reflection Deni still never really understood his father. It is tough to explain someone who tells so many stories that you can never fully know them or their truth. So he ponders & extrapolates & investigates & broods & demands to know the reality of his father & of his life & it just weighs him down. He spins his wheels, he re-thinks the stories and re-questions them over & over again. It is wearisome & that makes the book hard to get through. I read over 1/2 way and then had to jump ahead & then read backwards to be able to complete the task. I don;t regret reading this but I would hesitate to recommend it to someone else. When I read about the authors history I wanted to like this book because he obviously worked on it for SO long & in a way that is what makes it not work.......you can feel that heaviness & despair & it repels you while simultaneously trying to lure you into the story -- I guess kind of like his father. So maybe this book does succeed on that level.It's a very mixed bag.
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Format: Hardcover
In Deni Y. Béchard’s memoir Cures for Hunger, the reader is introduced to the author as a young boy enamored with his father. The author’s father, André, harbors a wild thirst for danger that burrows in his personality and threatens his family. We see this in the opening scene when André takes his children to sit in his truck over railroad tracks. As the train barrels toward the family, André pretends the truck has stalled until the last possible moment. Antics like this one terrify and thrill his children. Then there is the darker side, the sunken eyes and secrets. After the family’s escape from André—and that’s how it felt, kids packed in the car, speeding across the Canadian border in the middle of the night—Béchard blames his mother for taking him away from his father. In the years leading up to his fifteenth birthday, Béchard discovers pieces of André’s criminal record and resolves to move back in with his father. His hope to quench his fascination with André’s past is shadowed by the realization that his father is not the same man he remembers from childhood.

Béchard explores what it means to be in limbo between craving a father’s love and being repulsed by his lifestyle. In his memoir, the author appears troubled, wanting nothing more than a strong patriarchal figure as he picks fights at school and writes dystopian fantasies in his bedroom. But his redeeming qualities are limited.
He, like his father, is charming when needed, but selfish, existing only to further himself regardless of his family’s needs. He is impassive, rough, and manipulative. He is a fighter. As André says to his son over dinner at a Greek restaurant, “You’re like me that way.” And it’s true.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This memoir does a great job of telling about a son's view of his father and how it changed over time and how his father influenced him. It is beautifully written too. The book made me think about how parents need to love their children for who they are rather than for how they reflect on themselves. It made me think about how strongly children want to please their parents, and how they idealize them when they are young and how that can all change into rage when they are disillusioned.
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