Almost unbelievable. You'll swear it's fiction.
"You haven't read a story like this one, even if your father was the kind of magnificent scoundrel you only find in Russian novels. Béchard is the rare writer who knows the secret to telling the true story." — Marlon James, author of A Brief History of Seven Killings
Growing up in rural British Columbia, Deni Béchard worships his father, believing that he can do no wrong. Although his charismatic father is prone to racing trains and brawling, Deni has no idea how unusual his family is.
But when Deni discovers his father's true identity (and his other life as a bank robber), his imagination is set on fire. Before long, he begins to see himself as a character in one of his father's stories. He can't escape the sense that his father's life holds the key to understanding his own passions, aversions, and motivations.
Eventually Deni finds himself ensnared in the controlling impulses of his mysterious father and increasingly obsessed by his father's own muted recollections: the impoverished childhood in the Gaspé he'd fled long ago, the hunger for excitement and a better life, and a trail of crimes leading from Québec to the American west.
At once an extraordinary family story and an unconventional portrait of the artist as a young man, Cures for Hunger is a singular, deeply affecting memoir by an acclaimed writer.
"Béchard's whiplashing sentences have an intimacy. ... Clever, superbly paced and crafted, sincere and very affecting."
"A poignant but rigorously unsentimental account of hard-won maturity."
"Ragged and rough on the surface, tender and aching underneath, Bouchard's writing style reflects what may be the real subject of this memoir; his own youthful bravado."
"A complex tale, full of bittersweet encounters, rage, love, and sorrow."
"Cures for Hunger illustrates the ways in which storytelling can act as a means of self-discovery... much more than a memoir of youthful misadventure, though it contains plenty of that. It's also an exploration of the oppression of lineage, of familial duty, wanderlust, and perennial dissatisfaction, and the most American theme of them all: personal reinvention."
"Captivating and poignant memoir... Deni Y. Béchard's prose brims with nuance as his characters move across a continent and leave the reader richer for accompanying them. ... a must-read for anyone who has mused about the ways in which parents' actions can affect their children... a heartfelt depiction of the long road taken to a better understanding of the complexity of the parent-child bond."
"Best book to bring on a soul-searching solo trip: ‘Beautifully written memoir.’ "
"A coming of age story with rare and loving insights into the vulnerable hearts of men and boys — and the women that help shape them."
"Béchard's memoir is alternately funny and poignant, with a meditative, leisurely pace. ... embedded with insights. The complexities of hunger are the core of this story. Hunger is not simply a clawing emptiness in the belly: It is the yearning ‘for truth, for love, for a single thing that we can trust’ it is ‘the perfect pleasure of wanting.’... Ultimately for Béchard, writing is freedom and Cures for Hunger is both a journey and a coming home."
"Cures for Hunger is a poignant adventure story with a mystery... But it is also, perhaps even more so, the story of an artist coming of age. Readers will be reminded of James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man."
"A spare, raw, haunting memoir about living in the shadow of an enigmatic man. ... Deni Y. Béchard is a writer to watch."
"Béchard powerfully evokes the ever-present tension between the author and his parents... as well as his own struggle to emulate and escape his father... Béchard's story is also one of personal discovery, and a teasing out of the function of memory: what it keeps, what it loses, and what it saves."