The Second Substance
Squatters at a rural gas station try to find freedom and build something new on the ashes of our petrocivilization in this sensual novel.
A community of outsiders takes over an abandoned gas station. They spend their days ripping up asphalt, drinking beer and eating hot dogs, and wandering through woods and towns in search of new ways of living. People come and go: a charismatic landscaper, Italian anarchists, a policewoman, travellers. A teenager drifts into homelessness. And The Girl With No Name keeps a journal of her attempts to meet new people and sleep with them, sex that is “not a sideline” but the motivating force in a story she is struggling to understand.
Neighbors grow hostile. An investigation threatens the community. Tension builds between the surface violence of “normal life” and the attempt of these outsiders to experience freedom and build something new on the ashes of our oil-addicted society.
With a character borrowed from Agnès Varda’s Vagabond and inspiration taken from Anne Boyer’s writings, Anne Lardeux’s highly original debut assembles elements of poetry, film, and visual arts into an exuberant choral novel, an ode to the daughters of fire and to the poetry of the body. Often funny, sometimes raunchy, consistently surprising, never flinching, The Second Substance heralds an important new voice in Quebec literature.