A, by André Alexis André Alexis’ novella A packs an incredible amount to enjoy and ponder in its infectious 74 pages.
To start, it’s a charming celebration of place. As Toronto book reviewer and aspiring poet and novelist Alexander Baddeley makes his way through his city’s streets and neighbourhoods, they are shown as simultaneously muted and vibrant, welcoming in understated fashion:
“It was again November. Parkdale was grey, but it was a soft grey. Its streets were wet; its pedestrians in half-unbuttoned coats.”
It’s also a sly CanLit romp, oh my. Though the inspiration for Gil Davidoff is thinly veiled (“I’m writing about all the great television I’m making my son watch”), it doesn’t make the character and his ilk and their haunts and machinations any less deliciously observed and criticized. Baddeley circulates in the peripheral waves around other recognizable literary names (Alexis doesn’t always mask them), making wicked observations:
“… it seemed to Baddeley that there was something of the iguana to her …”
A is also a meditation on the nature of artistic inspiration. It offers reflections on mortality and spirituality, rendered haunting and given profundity as they emerge in the midst of the novella’s savoury mischief.
A, by André Alexis (BookThug, 2013)