Tuesday, August 03, 2010

BUTTERFLY LOVERS by Charles Foran (1996)

David LeClair is a thirty-something ex-husband to Carole and a doting father to 6 year old Natalie. Having been raised by a socialist-activist Adele in Montreal, David speaks both English and French with equal aplomb. For years David has been in denial about his petit mal epileptic seizures, the primary cause of the rift between him and his ex-wife.

David is about to journey to Beijing where he is taking up a year-long teaching post in the English Department at the university in the tense and heady months following the June 1989 TienAnMen Square massacre. Before he leaves Montreal, however, he ends up at odds with everyone he cares about including his best friend Ivan who is dying of AIDS.

In China, David finds himself through his rapport with his Mandarin teacher's wife, the foreign affairs officer at the university and his relationship with one of the disaffected faculty who hides out in David's tiny apartment swilling cheap beer and smoking cigarettes like an existentialist.

The novel's title comes from a banned piece of music during the Cultural Revolution, one with both eastern and western influence that many people hum to themselves secretly to lift their spirits. Finally, in Beijing, David is able to reconcile himself to the truths about his past, his present and what he hopes will be his future.

The narrative moves effortlessly between Montreal and Beijing, places clearly familiar to Foran. In BUTTERFLY LOVERS you will discover David Le Clair's true self and maybe a little about yourself as well.

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