ISBN : 978-2-89649-527-6 | 314 pages | $27.99 | | VLB Éditeur

Available from your bookseller or in ePub format. In French only.

Raised in the utopia of sex­u­al lib­er­a­tion, Serj, Yvonne, Heloise, and Xavier have long had a per­sis­tent hatred for their par­ents. Back in the fam­i­ly home for the father’s funer­al after fif­teen years of exile, the four chil­dren seek to make peace with their past while learn­ing to live again. But in this the­atre of debauch­ery, deceit, and quar­rels, every­day ges­tures like the excess­es of desire seem to be orches­trat­ed by a direc­tor who has returned from beyond the grave to remind them that the fruit nev­er falls far from the tree.



Dis­com­fort (4 stars in 5, La Presse +)

Some­times there are fam­i­ly secrets that should be kept hid­den. But very often, it is bet­ter to die the abscess, even if it means ques­tion­ing sev­er­al lives. This is the premise of Falaise, the fourth nov­el by Mon­treal­er Guy Verville. Gath­ered for the funer­al of a famous dis­tant father and fick­le, his chil­dren con­front their moth­er and repeat the rea­sons that led them to aban­don the fam­i­ly nest more than a decade ear­li­er, through very short chap­ters cen­tred on one or oth­er of the fam­i­ly mem­bers. On the menu were the par­ents’ omnipresent sex­u­al­i­ty and infi­deli­ty at the time, and the wounds that were still strug­gling to heal. The sex­u­al ten­sion of the char­ac­ters, skill­ful­ly tied up by the author, nev­er goes beyond vul­gar­i­ty, despite the appar­ent care­less­ness of each and every one of them and the dis­com­forts raised, which could in them­selves be the main sub­ject of the book. If we are wit­ness­ing yet anoth­er quest by the Que­bec father, the depth of the pro­tag­o­nists, as well as their weak­ness­es, their deci­sions and ulti­mate­ly their con­stant self­ish­ness, make this “bunch of freaks”, to quote one of the sec­ondary char­ac­ters, dev­il­ish­ly endearing.


Jean-François Villeneuve, La Presse + (2015/03/01)

Belle découverte!

A very nice discovery !

Dark premise if there is one ! Fol­low­ing the death of their father, two broth­ers and two sis­ters were reunit­ed with their moth­er, whom they had not seen for almost fif­teen years. From the begin­ning, there was a cer­tain mys­tery about the cause of this exile : the father was both fick­le and vio­lent, but it seems that the past hides even more trou­bled waters. A great lover, lit­er­al­ly, of the lib­er­tine style of the 1960s, the father had cre­at­ed a par­adise in which chil­dren found lit­tle con­tact with each oth­er and where love in all direc­tions con­cealed a some­times gloomy clandestinity.

Serj, Heloise, Xavier and Yvonne found them­selves in the com­pa­ny of their moth­er and sis­ter to die an abscess that was more than time to tack­le. Each one presents him­self with his share of secrets and mem­o­ries. Xavier who spyed on the orgies in which his par­ents par­tic­i­pat­ed in order to bet­ter con­tem­plate the men’s bod­ies that fas­ci­nat­ed him. Yvonne, embit­tered by the missed oppor­tu­ni­ties and a hap­pi­ness that escapes her. Heloise who seems to feel a cer­tain nos­tal­gia for a past that she is not sure real­ly exist­ed. Serj, foren­sic sci­en­tist, used to search­ing for the truth in the heart of anony­mous flesh, but which nev­er­the­less remains an almost impen­e­tra­ble wall, leav­ing noth­ing to fil­ter out about his fears, his aspi­ra­tions and about whom his desire is focused. And why is the pater­nal office sealed ? With such an intro­duc­tion, one might expect a very dark tone, but the author, Guy Verville, nav­i­gates sur­pris­ing­ly well between often con­tra­dic­to­ry emo­tions to bril­liant­ly evoke a web of com­plex rela­tion­ships and truths, large and small. A very nice discovery !

Benoit Migneault, Fugues (2015/04/29)

The DNA of love and hate

The DNA of love and hate

Although Falaise is his fourth nov­el, it is the first time I have dis­cov­ered Guy Verville. The sub­ject of the book attract­ed me, four chil­dren raised in the utopia of sex­u­al lib­er­a­tion, who are com­ing home after fif­teen years away for their father’s funer­al. Every­one dis­cov­ers that it is not easy to make peace with their past.

Serj, Yvonne, Heloise and Xavier had “com­bat­ive par­ents, jouis­seurs, artists and espe­cial­ly grotesque”.

André and Diane raised these four chil­dren with­out know­ing how to love them. They let per­verse demons lurk around, lies infil­trate the four walls and truths hang “in the locked cupboards”.

As a child, Xavier exam­ined his par­ents through the key­hole ; he saw too much of André and Diane “to admire, under­stand or love them. As for the oth­ers, child­hood was a decoy, a bad thought.

André’s will states that his assets were placed in a trust. All those who claim to be his chil­dren, and who hope to get some­thing, will have to under­go a DNA test. And the author adds that “hatred and love form a con­fused string of DNA”.

Hatred and love are con­stant­ly echoed in this fine­ly craft­ed nov­el. The author some­times seems to describe how a char­ac­ter learns to “homog­e­nize his bitterness”.

We often hear that tomor­row is anoth­er day, that we have to take that “six­ty min­utes at a time, and if pos­si­ble, a shot of gin every 15 minutes!”

Guy Verville’s style plays on sev­er­al reg­is­ters : sar­cas­tic, philo­soph­i­cal, poet­ic, erot­ic. He writes that André “pre­ferred to trav­el, enlight­ened and guid­ed by drugs, stag­ger­ing over the aro­mas of desire by swal­low­ing the sin­u­ous words of sea­son­al sirens”.

As men­tioned above, chil­dren were raised in the hip­pie era, in the era of peace and love. The youngest child is a homo­sex­u­al who is com­fort­able in his own skin, always ready to come, even with his bisex­u­al brother.

Xavier likes to tell his adven­tures. He explains how, instead of doing this in the bush­es, he could have tak­en the boy to a hotel room, “mak­ing love to him by promis­ing him that they would be hap­py togeth­er all their lives. But it’s eas­i­er to emp­ty your balls than to quench your heart.”

The chil­dren are now between 41 and 52 years old. No one is mar­ried. Curi­ous­ly, Yvonne and Héloïse meet the one they love dur­ing this painful return to the fam­i­ly home.

Even if the late father still seems to want to bring the sur­vivors into line, the excess­es of the heart escape his orches­tra­tion from beyond the grave.

Falaise is a 310-page nov­el with­out chap­ters, at most sub­ti­tles on every 2, 3, 4 or 5 pages. The moods most often pre­vail over the spec­tac­u­lar twists and turns. Guy Verville is a fine psy­chol­o­gist here.


Paul-François Sylvestre, L'Express, Toronto, (2015/04/11)

Six authors to discover

Six authors to discover

When their father died, two broth­ers and two sis­ters returned to the fam­i­ly home, which they had desert­ed 15 years ago, where their moth­er await­ed them. A joy­ful and bit­ter reunion… Will the fam­i­ly be able to make up for it ? This nov­el is full of secrets, repressed anger, with a few small cracks let­ting the light in.
Shock phrase : “You nev­er learn not to say nev­er, just as you are always sur­prised to hope. »


Lisanne Rheault-Leblanc, Nightlife.ca (2015/04/11)



I read this nov­el in a few days dur­ing my hol­i­days (OK, I had start­ed it a lit­tle before, so I could­n’t wait any longer). Hol­i­days at the square are an ide­al time to take this very well told and well tied sto­ry of Guy Verville, but also very disturbing.

First of all, I must admit that I am a fan of the author, hav­ing read all his titles with the great­est pleasure.

A keen observ­er of human­i­ty, he skill­ful­ly iden­ti­fies his char­ac­ters. They are as imper­fect as they are endear­ing, as true as they are liars, as good as they are self­ish. They are nei­ther com­plete­ly white nor com­plete­ly black, but res­olute­ly grey. This makes them credible.

The title Falaise is a beau­ti­ful metaphor for the fall of a dys­func­tion­al fam­i­ly, as we all know. Diane, Rose, Heloise, Serj, Xavier and Philippe each cul­ti­vate a secret gar­den, in addi­tion to shar­ing a fam­i­ly secret. The whole thing comes out in the open after their father’s death when it comes time to read his will. And even then, we feel that these rev­e­la­tions are not com­plete, the trans­paren­cy is not total. We will nev­er know the real feel­ings that some peo­ple have towards each oth­er, espe­cial­ly those of chil­dren towards their par­ents. The unspo­ken is very reveal­ing in this won­der­ful text, because often what we say does not have as much mean­ing as what we feel.

I rec­om­mend this read­ing with­out hesitation.


Denis-Martin Chabot (2015/04/06)

Like Zola

Like Zola

For your lat­est nov­el, by div­ing into the first sec­tions, we notice a work on a par with the great NRF pub­li­ca­tions, that’s for sure, no doubt for me. With­out know­ing your lit­er­ary influ­ences, how­ev­er, I per­ceive from the out­set a style that can eas­i­ly be mea­sured against Sylvie Ger­main, Marie Ndi­aye or even Éric Fot­tori­no. That’s for style.

For the con­tent, that is to say, where you want to bring emo­tion, both for us and for the char­ac­ters, you suc­ceed won­der­ful­ly in lead­ing us towards unsus­pect­ed tra­jec­to­ries, as if we had every­thing to learn where­as nev­er can the human being be total­ly trans­par­ent to us. The exam­ple I’m going to give you is rather clas­sic, but well, for my part, only Zola mas­ters this art so well (his char­ac­ters are immersed in wild cap­i­tal­ism while their human­i­ty remains intact). And this art is trans­posed in your book with the char­ac­ters of Diana and her chil­dren, since we nev­er man­age to eas­i­ly resolve their feel­ings towards their par­ents ; they keep their child­ish and self­ish impuls­es like an Anne Frank for her par­ents, or the way Nan­cy Hus­ton treat­ed her child­hood in Lignes de faille ; How­ev­er, their adult con­di­tion (for the char­ac­ters in your book) often brings them back to real­i­ty by leav­ing the read­er in a pleas­ant sus­pense ; pleas­ant since when you read it, you feel some­thing extreme­ly pow­er­ful : we trust you. And when this rela­tion­ship of trust nat­u­ral­ly devel­ops between the read­er and the author, the read­ing becomes jus­ti­fied and above all pleasant. 

If I took some time before shar­ing my appre­ci­a­tions, it was to let the whole ques­tion about the treat­ment of dia­logues mature in me ; and, as such, your nov­el allowed me to find some answers in this regard. Dia­logue in lit­er­a­ture seems del­i­cate to me, since it only directs emo­tion on the sur­face. That’s what I real­ize when I go through sev­er­al books at ran­dom. As in real life, what comes out of our mouths is of no great impor­tance, where­as every­thing hap­pens in the emo­tions felt, in our heads. I note that dia­logue in lit­er­a­ture is per­haps more pre­dom­i­nant when it involves an ana­lyt­i­cal treat­ment between char­ac­ters, as Amélie Nothomb uses it, for exam­ple. But always, when there are many dia­logues, it is very del­i­cate in the con­struc­tion of knowl­edge. As for the struc­ture of your nov­el, I thought a lit­tle bit about Tra­cy Cheva­lier’s The Lady with the Uni­corn ; how­ev­er, for the lat­ter, she treats the dia­logues more spar­ing­ly and con­cen­trates the action more in the minds of her char­ac­ters ; even though dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters can respond one after the oth­er, but always from the per­spec­tive of one (for that, we only have to think of Jonathan Lit­tell in his very famous Les Bien­veil­lantes. But the exam­ple of Tra­cy Cheva­lier is far bet­ter). In your nov­el, with this con­struc­tion so that each sec­tion has a title, for exam­ple “Moth­er, Chil­dren”, it would have been easy to choose this path where the dia­logue between the char­ac­ters would have been gen­er­at­ed by the mind of a sin­gle char­ac­ter. Final­ly, the issue is very com­plex. And if dia­logue is so del­i­cate in its treat­ment, it is because the author must first of all, in my opin­ion, reflect upstream on the whole epis­te­mo­log­i­cal ques­tion of his work, since it is there that he decides, as I said ear­li­er, how he will build knowl­edge. In short, it’s a very, very long sub­ject that we could elab­o­rate fur­ther together !

I con­grat­u­late you on this last baby ; it’s a colos­sal job, you can feel it, and I admire this courage to pub­lish, very sincerely.

Jean-François Sonier (2015/04/06)


Pow­er­ful !

As you asked us at the launch, here is my lit­tle report on your pow­er­ful book FALAISE.

I would say that from the begin­ning I was cap­ti­vat­ed by your char­ac­ters. I found your struc­ture very elab­o­rate. Your well researched can­vas, your pre­cise analo­gies in time and space. Con­grat­u­la­tions ! We have the impres­sion that these are real, which cre­ates attach­ment from the begin­ning of the novel.

I thought you were most­ly bold, really !

By immers­ing us in the con­se­quences of the sex­u­al rev­o­lu­tion of the 1960s, you high­light a part of soci­ety that is still too dis­creet. Its social impact is demon­strat­ed here with strength, sen­si­tiv­i­ty and pre­ci­sion. We can see the impact and con­se­quences of this time of cel­e­bra­tion, which was intend­ed to be a time of inno­cence and plea­sure. Your audac­i­ty in the face of incest has trou­bled me. And I’m not sur­prised that VLB has shown itself to be a tak­er. I’ve been think­ing about Junior and Julie in the Heritage.

I loved your char­ac­ter Serj, sur­pris­ing, intense, dis­tant and sen­si­ble. Your female char­ac­ters are absolute­ly right. I found myself in Yvonne and Diane a lot.

Your pret­ti­est sen­tence, for me, is on page 147 : It lasts a sec­ond hour, a gourmet one, born of this dance refined by the suc­ces­sive tides of exis­tence that, to mod­ern and free peo­ple, give them an innate knowl­edge of phys­i­cal love.

Whew, superb. But there are oth­ers through­out the nov­el. Congratulations ! !

I liked this the­atri­cal style by which you present the char­ac­ters and sit­u­a­tions around the table, in the bar, at funer­als etc.


Oth­er­wise, every­thing else is pure hap­pi­ness. I hope for a continuation…

Con­grat­u­la­tions and thank you Guy for your abil­i­ty to say and inspire !

Brigitte Vandal (2015/02/10)

It's art!

It’s art !

First of all.… THANK YOU for invit­ing me to the launch of “Falaise”. I knew your “graph­ic” face but not your “lit­er­a­ture” face… What a beau­ti­ful discovery !

You told me Mon­day night, at the launch, that you would like my opin­ion fol­low­ing my read­ing of a cer­tain pas­sage of female words in the sto­ry of all these char­ac­ters… So I had in mind that at some point I would arrive at a pas­sage that would seem left under the pen of a man who lives his sex­u­al­i­ty with men… I came to the end of the book won­der­ing where that pas­sage might have been !

Why per­haps doubt the authen­tic­i­ty of the images used when describ­ing a wom­an’s sex­u­al­i­ty ? You could have invent­ed it as con­vinc­ing­ly as you described the old Diane and Rose who grew car­rots in their gar­den. Yet you’ve nev­er been an old woman who grows car­rots ! You prob­a­bly nev­er did an autop­sy, but you con­vinced me in your descrip­tion of Serj who explains to a trainee the steps of ana­lyz­ing a dead body. In the same way, I think, you wrote what any per­son (man or woman) can feel when faced with their fan­tasies or sex­u­al ghosts… I think you could write about the sex life of dol­phins and I would read the text with the same plea­sure ! As you wrote to me, in black ink on the first page of my copy of the book… It’s art !

You know what?.…. I real­ize that in my extreme oppo­site of the char­ac­ters of “Falaise”, I may be as ill-equipped as they are to face the fre­quent dark­ness of adult life.… Because… I lived a child­hood wrapped in love at its max­i­mum mega. Poor par­ents, unit­ed until death, who would have giv­en their souls to their six chil­dren. BUT, the oth­er extreme is nec­es­sary : I have arrived at my adult life with­out lug­gage to know how to live with wicked­ness and all its dark­ness.… So, what is the best tool for the sur­vival of an adult life?.… Is it grow­ing up in shit like the char­ac­ters of Falaise and then reach­ing adult­hood and under­stand­ing why life is some­times shit or, is it grow­ing up sur­round­ed by absolute love and then reach­ing adult­hood, some­times sour and defence­less and anti­body-free ? Noth­ing is real­ly a win-win sit­u­a­tion after all.

Bof.… In the end, the human being is a work of art ! Every­one inter­prets it in their own way and… we like it or we don’t like it.

Greet­ings, see you next time.

J. C. (2015/02/01)