Canada Reads·Canadian

Volkswagen Blues

Jacques Poulin's road novel tells the story of a man in search of his brother.

Jacques Poulin, translated by Sheila Fischman

In this classic road novel, Jacques Poulin tells the story of a man in search of his brother. The geographical journey — through Detroit, into Chicago, on to St. Louis, along the Oregon Trail and into California — becomes a metaphor for the exploration of the history of the French in North America.

Volkswagen Blues was a contender for Canada Reads 2005, when it was defended by Roch Carrier.

From the book

He was wakened by the meowing of a cat.

He sat up in his sleeping bag and drew aside the curtain that covered the back window of the Volkswagen minibus: he saw a tall thin girl in a white nightgown walking barefoot in the grass despite the cold; a black kitten was running behind her.

He tapped on the window, not too hard, and the kitten stopped dead, one paw in the air, and then started running again. The girl's hair was as black as coal and plaited into a long braid that hung to the middle of her back.

The man craned his neck and saw that she was heading for the section of the campground that was reserved for tents. He got out of his sleeping bag, pulled on his jeans and a heavy woollen sweater because he was sensitive to the cold, then he opened all the curtains in the old Volks. The sun was rising, and there were patches of fog over the Baie de Gaspé.

From Volkswagen Blues by Jacques Poulin, translated by Sheila Fischman ©2004. Published by Cormorant Books.