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Publish Date: May 2012
Cures for Hunger
BY Deni Ellis Béchard
As a child, Deni Béchard has no idea his family was unusual. His mother is from Pittsburgh and there is a vague sense that his father is from Quebec, but when Deni is assigned to complete a family tree in school, he begins to wonder why he doesn’t know more about his father’s side of the family. Who is André Béchard, and why do the police seem so interested in him?
Soon after Deni’s mother leaves his father and decamps with her three children to Virginia, Deni learns that André was once a bank robber, a revelation that sets his imagination on fire. Boyish rebelliousness soon gives way to fantasies of a life of crime. At once attracted and repelled, Deni can’t escape the sense that his father’s life holds the key to understanding himself, and to making sense of his own passions and longings. Only when he goes off to college does Deni begin to unravel the story of his father’s life, eventually returning with it to the Quebecois family that André had fled long ago.
BEYOND THE BOOK
• The following readings from Cures for Hunger explore the contours of Denis unique family. In the first, Béchard introduces the rift opening between him and his father, and in the second, recounts when he first suspected André’s criminal past.
• Listen to Denis interview on The Daily Circuit below.
“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.”
—Marlon James, author of
The Book of Night Women
OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR:
“[B]y understanding his father's stories, and by unearthing his mysterious past, Deni can find the keys to his own torments, rages and compulsions—the Cures for Hunger—and find a way to still be free in a life of adult constraints.”
“Though [the characters] are destined to remain unsatisfied, they are entirely free from self-pity—refreshing for a memoir about (among many other things) a dysfunctional family.”
“A poignant but rigorously unsentimental account of hard-won maturity.”
Cures for Hunger is a sad story in which a son attempts to learn about a mysterious father who failed to appreciate his son's desire to write, finish school and find his own way in life. Toward the end of André's life, though, father and son, while not fully reconciling their troubles, seemed to have found some calm understanding. For Deni Béchard, it was his telling of these stories that gave him peace, which in turn gives us insight into growing up in the midst of a truly unusual family.