By Robert Markland Smith
Montreal in 15 Chapters is a compilation of stories taking place in Montreal, from the story of a translator in the Quebec government to the wanderings of a homeless person on the streets. Some of the spots mentioned now only exist in our memories, such as the Hawaiian Lounge, which was a bar for cross-dressers, or Parthenais Prison.
Robert Markland Smith is a bilingual Canadian writer. He was raised in Ottawa
and moved to Montreal, Quebec, where he studied at Loyola. He won the
Rector’s Scholarship in 1966 and took a BA in French Literature, later studying
translation and creative writing. During the radicalised period of the 60s and
70s, which he experienced first-hand, he was institutionalised for schizophrenia. After treatment, he became a French/ English translator for government, banks and business. Since 1968 many of his poems, stories and articles have appeared internationally. He is married common-law with two daughters. His work is political, humane, and balances humour and pathos,
to explore sex, religion, mental health, society and more broadly, the existential ironies of modern life. This is his first book to appear in the UK.
It is my honour to be publishing short stories by Robert Markland Smith. He has been a literary figure on and off the margins of Montreal culture since the late 1960s. As he’d be the first to tell you, he has suffered with mental health challenges for decades, but he also continues to write, and support a family, including a wife and daughters. Like Job, he is a lucky man, if cursed. As this book will show, he is a gifted writer, with an immediately convincing voice.
Moreover, his sense of compassion and humour flashes out, even while some of the tales portray the ludicrous, sometimes cruel, absurdities of being human. There are few if any writers working in English who better capture the Montreal sensibility – worldly, but also, sometimes, down at heels, even lost. I happen to think that this ‘outsider’ writer has more than a bit of genius to him, and something of Dostoevsky, or maybe Bukowski, as well as some Beat writers. He deserves a wider international audience, and hopefully, with this funny, startling and original book, he will find one.
– DR TODD SWIFT, Publisher
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