Any reader who dares to rub shoulders with Sadie X, “Unlearning novel” set in the world of science, by Clara Dupuis-Morency (Mother of invention, Triptyque), will tell you that he will find there a demanding reading, a Proustian syntax to make you dizzy and a character who is not easily tamed. Especially if he has no scientific background.

“I take it as a compliment! », Laughs the author, joined on the phone. “Myself, I didn’t know anything about science, I was completely impervious to mathematics. When I fell in there I was so fascinated that when I got into a lode I couldn’t brake. I was in an obsessive mode. “

Then came the pandemic and its share of scientific comments, from the most rigorous to the most bizarre, even dangerous. The novelist then saw how the borders were closed between the human sciences and fundamental science.

“From school, then at CEGEP, we separate these subjects; we close ourselves off from a whole relationship with the world when we come from the side of humanity. Yet it is all linked. As much as scientists need us, literaries and philosophers, to better express science, to put their ideas in order, so much for literary people and people in the human sciences need scientists to understand a whole important part of reality. “

In Sadie X, Clara Dupuis-Morency explores the potential porosity between these two worlds through the career of a former philosophy student who turned to science after meeting Professor Régnier some twenty years ago. Having left Montreal, Sadie lives in Marseille with Régnier; together they study viruses. In the evening, she tries to find a balance between parasitic life and real life by smoking marijuana in front of Scum, Veronica’s bar, in the company of a DJ friend, Molly.

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“Sadie is a funny bug, admits the author. The subject of the book was to think about what it is like not to be a good subject, a good self, a self that doesn’t quite manage to be a self in the world. I was trying to figure out that she was the nature of a parasite. In fact, a parasite is someone who lives in association, not just within the confines of their ego, who needs others in order to live. “

Guinea pig reader

When not observing life under the microscope, cut off from the world, Sadie plunges into literature. However, parasitic life invades his gaze and “unlearns him to read”. As she embarks on a neurological explanation of reading, the reader himself fears losing the ability to read, as if his reading were parasitized. As if reading became for him a scientific experiment or that he himself was the object of this experiment.

“As a reader, what interests me first is when a book asks me for something other than what I initially have, to the point of doubting whether I have what it takes to read it, not only in knowledge, but also in reading experience. Of course, a book that unsettles me will require more work, but with Sadie X, I think at one point I had to come to terms with writing smart books. I think we’ve come to this, in a world where it’s okay to be smart. “

Defending herself from having wanted to give a course on viruses, Clara Dupuis-Morency does not take offense at the fact that the reader can drop out during scientific passages, feel dumped in front of the avalanche of details. “The book is not there for that. He’s here to show us what it’s like to live in his head. In Sadie’s head there is a lot of knowledge, information, structures; you had to put it all in place in the book so that it all came apart later. I would say reading the novel becomes an immersive experience in Sadie’s headbox. “

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To create this experience, the author claims to have lived in a kind of manic fashion. When she had a hard time letting go Mother of invention, her first novel, it was not without relief that she left Sadie X.

“I’ve been doing nothing for months! There is something that ended for me. The final image I got was the skull, vanity. I really felt a release, that I could do something else after. Right now, I have the desire to write something that is not in the control. I had the impression of writing Sadie X hands closed, in an extreme tension. I really want to see what a book that lives in the fluid would be like, what a writing of fluidity, of overflow, of flooding would be. I aspire to be slack, ”she concludes calmly.

Sadie X

Clara Dupuis-Morency, Héliotrope, Montréal, 2021, 284 pages

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