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Isobel & Emile

Alan Reed


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This is the story of Isobel and Emile.

They wake up beside each other one morning, and they slowly get out of bed. It is the last time that they will sleep together. They know it. They do not want it to be the last time but they know that it is.

They get out of bed and they go to a train station. Emile gets onto a train. Isobel does not.

She stands on the platform and she watches him go. He is going to the city, where he will be an artist. He will make puppets, and films of puppets, that struggle to say something he does not have the words for. She will stay in the small town, in the small room where they lived. She will work at a small grocery store and write letters to Emile while she works up the courage to do something more.

Told in a stark, minimalist voice, Isobel and Emile is the hypnotizing story of two lovers without each other. It is a story of struggling with loss and a loneliness that threatens to consume them. It is about staying true to what they hold dear, no matter that it is hopeless and that nothing will ever come of it, because sometimes that is all that is left.

And sometimes, it is enough.

Praise For Isobel & Emile

'Reed strives to make the subtle act grand, training his lens on the mundane in an effort to capture it from every angle ... Isobel and Emile manages to accomplish something quite impressive, pairing a story of two estranged lovers stuck in a rut with a strangely hypnotic, and ultimately complimentary, writing style.' Broken Pencil Magazine

'Isobel and Emile is a poignant study of heartache, isolation and alienation.' Quill and Quire

'The ache of abandonment in Isobel ... is touching to observe ... You feel as if you're sharing the physical space of the characters' world.' Globe and Mail

Coach House Books, 9781552452271, 160pp.

Publication Date: April 11, 2010

About the Author

Alan Reed studied semiotics at the University of Toronto and writing at Dartington College of Arts (in the U.K.). He is the author of a collection of poems, For Love of the City (BuschekBooks), and two plays. Since 2005, he has been working as an experimental writer, making things that sit somewhere between writing, installation and performance art. This is his first novel. He lives in Montreal.