Claudia Larochelle | Memoirs of a “disgraceful”

The columnist, journalist and author Claudia Larochelle returns these days to three “founding” eras of her life, pre #metoo, in three stories as tortured as they are felt, overwhelmingly vulnerable, but not devoid of “enlightenments” either.


Posted at 1:33 a.m.

Updated at 5:54 a.m.

If she deliberately blurs the lines between reality and fiction, her scratched pen still says a lot about a not-so-distant era, which many readers will recognize.

You should know that the author of the collection of short stories Good girls plant flowers in spring almost canceled the launch of its Unsightly, Tuesday evening. Met a few hours before the event, she was visibly shaken by the news of Caroline Dawson’s disappearance. “Every loss of shooting star comes to pick me up…”

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PHOTO PATRICK SANFAÇON, THE PRESS

The journalist, author, presenter Claudia Larochelle.

Claudia Larochelle tells us, with a broken voice, that she wrote to the author last week, just after her appearance on the show There will always be culture, on Radio-Canada. “Your words will make me a better human,” she said to Caroline Dawson. Curiously, this also applies to several ordeals, encountered and recounted here, which have both “broken”, but also “formed” its narrator.

From her years of anxiety in a private high school for sisters (where she understood the importance of female friendships, sorority establishing itself as the main thread of the story), to her toxic romantic relationships, through a certain environment of Pretty harmful journalistic work thank you, she’s had a hard time. “It cultivated my distrust, and it also humanized me. It made me aware of a certain fragility, and of the importance of respecting others…” she says.

The power of fiction

We don’t know exactly if Claudia Larochelle is talking about herself or her alter ego here, and this is obviously intentional. Because the two intertwine throughout the pages of his Unsightly, and are often one and the same. But not all the time, obviously.

Please note: you should know that this story is published here in collection III, from QuébecAmérique, which looks back on three significant moments in the lives of different selected authors (we were treated to Marc Séguin, Lorraine Pintal, Catherine Mavrikakis, etc. ), while specifying this: “Perhaps there is an element of invention creeping in. Maybe not. »

In conclusion, Claudia Larochelle adds: “The interest of this project does not lie in the quest for truth, more in the desire to shed light on a specific era, on the threshold of great upheavals, when everything was on the verge of collapse. ‘explode. »

Somewhere at the turn of the new millennium, we understand, before the wave of denunciations surrounding #metoo, and the small revolution in gender relations that followed.

Still. Of course we will be tempted to guess who these bosses and other toxic service “monuncles” were, with such inappropriate behavior, in a newsroom where “ordinary sexism” reigned which almost killed her. “I was told that the bastards had retired and the younger bastards were shutting up since this savior #metoo,” she wrote. Certainly, we will ask the name of this politician lover who made her suffer so much – taken, thrown, taken back, rejected – as she writes with her sharp pen, heartbreakingly vulnerable. “Fiction will always save me,” the main interested party will skillfully respond. It is the largest square of sand, which gives the greatest freedom. »

Claudia Larochelle therefore takes refuge in this self-fictional “artistic blur” and does not hide it. She specifies that she does not want to denounce anyone (“that is not the goal”), but rather to bear witness to an era in between, which according to her has not been talked about enough. “I want to leave a trace of what I wore from my predecessors who struggled,” she said, “and of what I saw as clearing up. I want to witness this for my daughter. »

Life arms us

Such speaking out still takes courage, we point out to him. She speaks more of an “impulse”. “I would never have done that before,” she agrees.

I would never have done this five years ago. I wasn’t strong enough, but now I have nothing to lose. As if speaking out was more important than we think.

Claudia Larochelle

The fact is that she is now 46 years old (“I wouldn’t have done that at 26!”), gained experience, and motherhood has also transformed her, adds the author of the series for toddlers. small The comforter. “It solidifies. To a certain degree, it saves your life…”

Among other bursts of vulnerability, Claudia Larochelle adds: “I am less fragile. I’m still just as sensitive, I still carry around my neuroses, my obsessions, we don’t change that much, but we deal with it. Life arms us…”, she slips.

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PHOTO PATRICK SANFAÇON, THE PRESS

Columnist, host and author Claudia Larochelle

And then there were these famous “clearings”, as we have said: here and there very beautiful people, notably those she calls her “night lights”, great friendships and precious allies, whom she sprinkles here or there in the story. Good men, too, whom she has learned to recognize and love (notably the father of her children, as well as her current partner). Not to mention a number of authors, whom Claudia Larochelle cites extensively in the text, from her great friend Nelly Arcan to Marguerite Duras, including Annie Ernaux and Virginie Despentes.

Women whose pen helps her reconcile with her past, to put words, a balm, on her experience. She nicely calls them her “consolers”. And in turn, she concludes, “I dare to hope, very humbly, that my words will be consoling…”

The Unsightly

The Unsightly

Claudia Larochelle

Quebec America, Collection III

127 pages

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