You're afraid of spiders, heights, sickness, and the way other people look at you. Afraid you'll be betrayed, abandoned, and that the fortune-teller's predictions will come true. You stop smoking, you avoid insects and medical advice, you stop going on stage, taking the airplane, falling in love, leaning over the balcony rail. You don't take your driving test and you start reading novels from the end, as if putting on a chastity belt. You think you are well protected, you will never be caught off-guard, nothing will surprise you. Then a butterfly is discovered in your chest, and you feel its wings beating. It is too late to ignore the sensation.
An autobiographical essay on fear, The Lily Pad and the Spider (Le nénuphar et l'araignée) explores the symptoms, sources, and genesis of anxiety, from the most intimate to the most ordinary kind. Using short chapters that are fragments of her life, Claire Legendre breaks down the psychological, physical, and social mechanisms associated with that emotion. Her style is lively, often funny, sometimes dark though never complacent, and the story traces a unique path between France and Canada and the Czech Republic, casting a defiant yet vulnerable gaze upon the world.
The Lily Pad and the Spider (Le nénuphar at l'araignée) was a finalist for the 2016 Quebec Booksellers' Prize in the Quebec novel category.
About the authors
David Homel has translated over 30 books, many by Quebec authors. He won the Governor General's Literary Award in translation in 1995 for Why Must a Black Writer Write About Sex? by Dany Laferrière; his translation of Laferrière's How to Make Love to a Negro was nominated in 1988; and he won the prize in 2001 with fellow translator Fred A. Reed for Fairy Wing. His novels, which include Sonya & Jack, Electrical Storms, and The Speaking Cure have been published in several languages. Homel lives in Montreal, Quebec.