Michael Delisle, Kathryn Gabinet-Kroo
A portrait of a violent father and an homage to poetry.
When Michael Delisle was a boy growing up in Montreal’s South Shore neighbourhood of Ville Jacques-Cartier, his "uncles" – in other words, his father's friends – never said "gun" but rather "piece" or "rod" or more metonymically, "heater." In Flame Out, the poet remembers his father, a crook turned Charismatic Christian, the violent man who came to speak only of Jesus, the hated man whom he had no choice but to love, in spite of it all. Delisle writes that “reading and writing poetry helped me stay the course.” Writing was the weapon he used do deal with a childhood that was difficult, to say the least, and to combat a father that he has called his Waterloo. But this novel is more than just about a settling of accounts between a parent and his offspring; Michael Delisle manages, through his writing, to grow into a love-hate relationship without destroying the father figure. This novel is thus both highly personal and an acknowledgement of the power found in the act of writing.