The Little Brudders of Misericorde by David M. Wallace

The Little Brudders of Misericorde is one of those unique books that I so enjoy reading. And that I’m grateful to the publisher (Tidewater Press) for sending to me–like so many other books on this blog–otherwise it might have fallen through the cracks.

Spence is feeling isolated after his big move to Montreal from Vancouver, where he has spent most of his life. His grown daughter–who is also living in Montreal–is all he has, but she is away for several weeks with her fiance and has left Spence to look after her plants. The only social contact Spence has in his life right now is his French class which he bikes to and from each day, then spends the afternoon studying. “Spence has discovered that Montreal was the most difficult place in the world for an anglophone to learn French.”

Enter Thierry, the talking mouse, who shows up in his apartment and decides to stick around. Thierry’s friendship is the only thing getting Spence through his isolation, and, although many of Thierry’s habits are more than annoying, Spence grows fond of the little guy with the foul mouth. “Evidently, I am now receiving advice from a francophone mouse.

I understand that no one is going to believe me. I know that. But perfectly sane people believe crazier things than this. Moses talked to a burning bush, after all. The history of half the world is shaped by that unlikely conversation.

Starting off small, like bringing Spence items from some of the other tenants of the building (an elaborate Victorian thimble, The Stranger by Albert Camus, a $20 bill, one pearl earring, 6 laundry tokens…), Spence and Thierry become partners in crime. They run into trouble when their imaginations get the better of them when they start wondering what their landlord is doing with an underground parking lot full of vintage cars. And what part does Spence’s beautiful new neighbour play?

Perhaps Thierry is right, though, when he observed we are all thieves. In every transgression there is a kind of theft. Truth goes missing. Trust disappears. Innocence is lost. Even the mystery of life is a larceny of sorts.

The story alternates between Spence’s new life in Montreal and his past as a drama teacher, husband, and father in Vancouver as Thierry helps him to confront his memories. He must face his past experiences with addiction, heartbreak, single-fatherhood, as well as a crisis in Faith.

I’m ashamed because my suffering seems so insignificant compared to the Simard boys, to Clara, to so many of my students. So much suffering. It is as though I haven’t earned my sorrow.

Further Reading:

Vancouver Sun:From the moment Thierry shows up at Spenceโ€™s Montreal apartment and asks โ€œYou got any beer?โ€ this foul-mouthed rodent leads Spence on a strange path to enlightenment.”

The British Columbia Review:At no point in the novel is it possible to predict what comes next. Wallace moves deftly between pain and pleasure, humour and hurt, and human and mouse.”

David M. Wallace’s bicycle trip from Montreal to Victoria, which he calls the “Little Brudder Cycling Tour”, and posts about it on his website/blog.

14 thoughts on “The Little Brudders of Misericorde by David M. Wallace

  1. Anne Smith-Nochasak says:

    Is this “talking mouse” the way he represents his inner dialogue? It sounds like a marvelous device — and certainly unusual. Worth a closer look!

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