March 17, 2014

Book Review - Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather by Pierre Szalowski

This first novel is a funny, quirky and intelligent look at the loves and lives of a group of neighbours, who are brought together when a severe ice storm affects Montreal. The main character is an 11 year old boy whose parents have just announced that they are splitting up. He comes to realize that they have been 'frozen' into attitudes that mean they aren't happy, and they aren't alone in that. His voice is beautifully depicted as he painfully comes to a more adult understanding of his parents' dilemmas and his place in their deliberations. His neighbours include a couple of homosexuals who are afraid to come out, a meteorologist, a psychoanalyst, a stripper who is disillusioned with men, a Russian Mathematics student working on a PhD on the patterns in which fish swim, a failed musician single father & his son, three cats and a dog. None of them know each other at all, except to nod to going in and out but the storm makes them connect and nothing will be ever be the same, not even for the cats although the dog continues on much as normal! This small book packs a lot into a charmingly simple story of what happens over five days, when all normal routines are gone. Szalowski manages to look at prejudice, fear, marriage and love without judgment but with great empathy and hope in a wonderfully realized narrative. I loved it! Wendy

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