Writer Simon Roy tells me about a rather sadistic scientific experiment, that of Curt Richter in the 1950s, where a mouse dived into a jar of water to watch it swim until it drowned. The rat fought for about 15 minutes before surrendering. But if we took him out of the water after 15 minutes, suffocated him with a sponge, calmed him down and then put him back in the water, he could fight… for 60 hours.
Posted at 07:15.
Hope, which can be the most cruel thing in the world, is essential to the will to live, even when one is doomed. In September 2021, for the publication of his novel Made by anotherI believed our interview was the last one because Simon was suffering from an aggressive brain cancer for which he had surgery. Well no. Simon returns with a new book, my end of the worldthe fourth of it, written in a hurry because even the cancer is back and this time it is inoperable.
“I surprise myself,” he said. Every book, basically, is the last. I do not even have to talk to you because I was supposed to be dead, according to predictions. I work on projects. If I had no plans, I would let myself sink. »
Richter’s mouse story comes from his wife Marianne Marquis-Gravel’s book, the first she will publish in the fall with Leméac, and which tells what the two have gone through since the fatal diagnosis. This exit is one of the most important encounters in Simon’s personal calendar, which sets the pebble in the future as in the Tom Thumb tale. Not only to find the way back, but also to follow it.
IN my end of the worldSimon Roy considers it a privilege to be able to arrange his death, unlike those who die suddenly, without ever seeing anything coming.
“I live in a terrible reality, but so beautiful. I swear I have never been happier than I have been in 15 months. The idea of my death gives me a tremendous boost of life. I am in a state of gratitude. » But he admits it all has a dark side, when he thinks about what he will not live with his two children, 16 and 20, what Marianne will live without him, and maybe with another. They are so in love, he tells me, that he would be ready to jump into another child’s adventure.
This is not the first time Simon Roy surprises and bothers me, I must add. I’ve been since his first novel, My name is Kubrick Redwhere he mixed up his film analysis glow of Stanley Kubrick and the personal tragedy of his mother’s suicide.
At our first meeting, seeing him possessed by guilt over the one who gave his life, I said to him: “But Simon, you are the child in this dynamic. You are not responsible. His hazy gaze pierced me, I remember it like yesterday.
“It was boredom that pushed me to write,” he said in 2014. Boredom and tragedy. It may be the only book I will ever write in my life. At the border, I almost wish… ”
Simon Roy has come in his fourth book and I do not think he is upset at the moment.
IN My name is Kubrick Red, talked about the “macabre genealogy”, about the “metastases of the soul” of the mother, about the fact that the desire to live can not be injected in the hospital. Between a mythomaniac father and a mother who had mental health problems, he always felt in danger, like the little boy at the Overlook hotel in glow. “Some do not hesitate to invest wealth in long-term therapy,” he wrote. For my part, I clumsily try to convince myself that it is possible to win the War, to defeat the Minotaur hidden in the heart of the maze, going so far as to spit in the eyes of death. »
I have nothing to do with an esoteric mind, but sometimes I wonder if a family breakup could extend a defect into the body of her offspring. He himself, a very rational type, sees ominousness in his early writings.
The maze, I’m in it, with my illness, and I’m trying to find the way. I think I find it through art, through projects, through love.
Simon Roy has planned some short-term meetings, which are for him so many miracles that will come in time. Like Nick Cave’s last show, which he dedicated to a song. He wants to see the shows of Sigur Rós, Julien Clerc, Charlebois, take advantage of the publication of his book and go to Marianne’s presentation, in addition to arranging regular meetings with friends, some of whom he has not seen in decades. .
fear and hope
IN my end of the worldfaithful to his style in fragments where seemingly unrelated subjects collide – something that comes to him from Stephen King, the author of glow Mix the story of the famous radio adaptation by Orson Welles e World War in 1938, the urban legend of a general panic in the United States in the face of the false alien invasion, his uncle’s healing gifts, the experiences of those who lived the afterlife, and this incredible coincidence: the child of the doctor who will be responsible for medical help to die when the time comes for Simon to do so, he has the same cancer as him, in the same place of the brain, which gives the last and most touching chapter of the book.
The driving force behind all this? “Fear,” he replies. And, of course, hope.
Death is what awaits us all, but I think people who, like Simon, are very close to knowing it, live in a parallel hyperrealist reality and the healthy live in a fiction. Maybe we are even living in fiction until the books wake us up – we must not forget that Simon Roy was a highly regarded literature teacher by CEGEP students.
A few weeks ago, Simon Roy invited me, with me of love, on a weekend with him and Marianne, and other friends, at a house in Charlevoix. This is part of the meetings he organizes; he even planned his last meal with relatives. “And I’ll treat myself to a good bottle of wine,” he laughs. I face my death. This is the positive side. The downside is that I would very much like to continue. Song by Jean Ferrat Life is Beautiful, it looks like I wrote it. »
Simon Roy forces me to write that this is not our last conversation. It also forces me to hope for this meeting in Charlevoix. “We will have fun,” he told me as if to calm me down, when he was the one with the gun to his head. But his purpose is very clear: “I do not want people to be relieved of my death. I want people to miss me and miss me. »
my end of the world