Gravel, François 1951-
GRAVEL, François 1951-
PERSONAL: Born October 4, 1951, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada; son of Gérard and Martine (Robillard) Gravel; married Murielle Grégoire, October 28, 1971; children: Elise, Simon. Education: University of Quebec.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Cormorant Books, R.R. 1, Dunvegan, Ontario KOC 1J0, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: CEGEP, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, professor of economics, 1975—.
MEMBER: Writers Union of Quebec.
AWARDS, HONORS: Mr. Christie's Book Award, 1990, for Mr. Zamboni's Dream Machine.
La note de passage: roman, Boréal Express (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1985.
L'effet Summerhill, Boréal (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1988.
La zamboni, Boréal Express (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1990, translated by Sarah Cummins published as Mr. Zamboni's Dream Machine, James Lorimer (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1992.
Les Black Stones vous reviendront dans quelques, Editions Québec Amérique (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1991.
Felicity's Fool, translated by Sheila Fischman, Cormorant Books (Dunvegan, Ontario, Canada), 1992.
Klonk, ou, comment se débarasser des adolescents: roman, illustrations by Pierre Pratt, Amerique Jeunesse (Boucherville, Quebec, Canada), 1993.
Ostende: roman, Editions Québec Amérique (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1994, translated by Sheila Fischman, Cormorant Books (Dunvegan, Ontario, Canada), 1996.
Miss Septembre, Editions Québec Amérique (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1996, translation by Sheila Fishman published as Miss September: A Novel, Cormorant Books (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1998.
Vingt et un tableaux (et quelques craies), Editions Québec Amérique (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1998.
Fillion et frères, Editions Québec Amérique (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2000.
L'ete de la moustache, illustrated by Anatoli Burcev, Bookbird, 2001.
A Good Life, translated by Sheila Fischman, Cormorant Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.
Je ne comprends pas tout, Editions Québec Amérique (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2002.
Author of Waiting for Jasmine, translated by Sheila Fischman; My Life as a Crow, translated by Sheila Fischman; and Benito, Lester & Orpen Dennys.
SIDELIGHTS: Canadian François Gravel is a professor of economics as well as an author of both adult and children's books. In his 1992 novel Felicity's Fool, a French-Canadian doctor removes and studies the brains of dead patients at the psychiatric hospital where he is employed. Through studying these brains he hopes to find the answer to what makes people happy.
In Ostend Jean François learns about life and death during the 1960s and 1970s. As a young boy Jean sees the deaths of President Kennedy and his killer Lee Harvey Oswald. At this time he starts to believe that it would be best to die young and famous. As teenagers, Jean and his friends reject all things that depict normal middle-class life, including marriage and living in the suburbs. But the deaths of people Jean admires, including Jimi Hendrix, Salvador Allende, and John Lennon, and then Jean's own father, wakes him up, and he realizes what is important in life. Quill & Quire contributor Tony Burgess noted, "Gravel makes his narrator a complex and difficult person to like, telling an exhilarating and important story."
In Miss Semptember, Lieutenant Brodeur is sent to investigate a bank robbery. The suspect is Genevieve, a twenty-two-year-old exotic dancer. She buys a drycleaning business in order to launder the money. As Brodeur investigates the crime, Brodeur and Genevieve begin to fall in love with each other. Canadian Book Review Annual contributor Sarah Robertson praised, "There isn't a wasted word in this exquisitely crafted tale."
In his children's book Mr. Zamboni's Dream Machine, Gravel tells the story of Daniel, a young boy who lives to play on his hockey team. His father, a divorced parent, is always telling Daniel how to play and what he did wrong in the game. One day Mr. Zamboni invites Daniel into his Zamboni machine. Inside the machine Daniel sees a movie in which he is the hero. Daniel learns to be more understanding of his father and, after watching the movie, the reasons why his father criticizes him. Canadian Materials contributor Norma Charles claimed, "A quick, satisfying read."
In his children's book My Life as a Crow, Gravel tells the story of a young boy who turns into a crow. The boy, a good student and son, must travel five blocks to school. Along the way he encounters bullies and an old lady with a mean dog. The boy is upset with the people he encounters and out of frustration shoots a sling shot at some crows. He hits one and is immediately sorry and attempts to fix the crow's broken wing. The crow talks to the boy and tells him how great the life of a crow is. The crow tells him of a witch who can turn him into a crow. After the boy is turned into a crow he learns that life was much better as a boy. Canadian Materials contributor Dave Jenkinson called My Life as a Crow "a fun read which imaginatively revisits the adage concerning the grass being greener."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Books in Canada, May, 2002, "The Not-So-Simple Good Life," p. 11.
Canadian Book Review Annual, 1998, Sarah Robertson, review of Miss September: A Novel, p. 184.
Canadian Literature, winter, 1992, Diane Watson, "Secrets," pp. 185-186; summer, 1993, Jill Lebihan, "Pain and Disorder," p. 113; summer, 1999, Ulrich Teucher, "Probabilities of Life," p. 205; spring, 2001, Susan Knutson, "Landmark Translations from Literary Quebec," pp. 147-148.
Canadian Materials, May, 1993, Norma Charles, review of Mr. Zamboni's Dream Machine, p. 94.
Quill & Quire, July, 1992, Jane Aspinall, "Pursuit of Happiness," p. 41; April, 1993, Annette Goldsmith, review of Mr. Zamboni's Dream Machine, p. 32; December, 1993, Ken Setterington, "Grand Travels," p. 34; October, 1996, Tony Burgess, review of Ostend, p. 41.
University of Toronto Quarterly, winter, 1999, Jane Koustas, "Translations," pp. 104-114.
Canadian Materials Online,http://www.umanitoba.ca/cm/ (September 3, 2002), David Jenkinson, review of My Life as a Crow.*