Nelly Arcan and Jacob Homel (translator); BREAKNECK; Anvil Press (Fiction: Literary) 20.00 ISBN: 9781772140118
Byline: Margaret Cullison
This sexually charged cautionary tale deftly uses interior monologue and psychological tension.
Nelly Arcan writes with keen insight into the lives of young adults in contemporary Montreal. Breakneck chronicles the jaded lives of two beautiful women who coldly compete to possess the same man.
The story begins on the rooftop of an apartment building in August as Julie O'Brien toasts her pale Irish skin in the piercing sun. Rose Dubois, a fashion stylist wearing a similarly brief bikini, and Julie's across-the-hall neighbor, shows up. The two women converse with surface affability while assessing each other's artificially enhanced bodies. Rose suggests that Julie, a script writer, discuss her documentary film concept with Charles Nadeau, a photographer and Rose's live-in boyfriend. The plot moves ineluctably forward through the ensuing year, concluding the following August, on the same rooftop, as their selfish game comes to fruition.
Arcan excels at capturing telling detail. For instance, Julie and Charles meet at a patio bar, without Rose. Drawn to him sexually, Julie glances at the children's playground next door, the scene of many of her late-night drunken orgies. Arcan writes, "Children played behind the cedar hedge, their presence like...