Killing Velazquez by Philippe Girard

Killing Velazquez
by Philippe Girard
Conundrum Press, 2011

Twelve years ago, the author is working for a news radio station in Quebec when he hears a priest in France is on trial for abusing minors. The priest’s name is familiar – the author narrowly escaped his clutches seventeen years earlier. Flashback to 1983, when the author graduates from a Wolf Cub pack. Surrounded by friendly older men with private arcane rituals, he sees nothing wrong with the Snow Geese Club, an activity group for teenage boys his mother enrolls him in, run by their liberal parish priest.

The alarm bells ring loud and early: the group is told to keep their activities secret, the priest gives him little presents and engages his trust (introducing him to Picasso and telling him to reject the brilliant but old-fashioned Velazquez)… in fact, the biggest surprise is that it’s a surprise at all for the author when he finally realizes he’s being groomed like a prize race horse.

Stuck in a complicated situation with an absent father and no moral compass, the young Girard uses a macho pulp novel series to guide his behaviour, and manages to survive. The author mentions in an end note that he undertook this uncomfortable autobiographical project “to serve as a pretext for emphasizing the importance of books”, but now he just wants to move on.

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