Canada Reads·Canadian

The Heart Is an Involuntary Muscle

Monique Proulx's novel uses the mystery genre to write about literature, and those who create it.

Monique Proulx, translated by David Homel and Fred A. Reed

At the heart of this high-spirited, existential romp is an examination of creativity and the role of literature in our lives. Florence is no fan of writers, but she finds herself on a quest to track down Pierre Laliberté, an enigmatic, reclusive author who seems to have had ties with her recently deceased father. When she finally does manage to catch up to the elusive writer, the encounter transforms her life in unexpected ways.

The Heart Is an Involuntary Muscle was a contender for Canada Reads in 2004, when it was defended by Francine Pelletier.

From the book

I had never been alone with him before. Now I am, though it's a little late. His icy hands steal the warmth from mine. His forehead burns like a furnace gone mad. The disorder within him has begun to unravel all that was so tightly wound. The parts of his being lose their coherence; each takes off in separate panic. What part truly remains, what part can still receive my encouragements or prayers? I petition his feverish head, and from it issues the steady, shallow breathing of sedated sleep. I'm waiting for a miracle, and that's what I tell him.

From The Heart Is an Involuntary Muscle by Monique Proulx, translated by David Homel and Fred A. Reed ©2003. Published by Douglas & McIntyre.