Hovering World


157 pages
ISBN 0-919688-61-6
DDC C813'.6






Reviewed by Ian C. Nelson

Ian C. Nelson is librarian emeritus and former assistant director of
libraries at the University of Saskatchewan Library. He is also
dramaturge for the Festival de la Dramaturgie des Prairies.


Montreal-based visual artist, art critic, and essayist Peter Dubé is
the author of the chapbook Vortex Faction Manifesto. Hovering World, his
first novel, follows the urban wanderings of the protagonist from 12
p.m. one day until 5:37 a.m. the next.

Julian’s day begins to take on significance when he receives a
package containing the photo of an angel. Like the hands of a doomsday
clock, the angel appears to advance across the photograph each time
Julian checks it. The reader’s interest in the photographed angel is
piqued with indexical descriptions of a host of the named classical
creatures: an attempt by Julian and one of his friends—and no doubt
the reader as well—to identify the portent. The back of the photo
includes a mysterious changing series of handwritten lines quoted from
Baudelaire’s Les Litanies de Satan—another omen, perhaps.

Occasional quotations from Julian’s notebook and a story are also
revealed during the day. There is one reference to the Main in Montreal,
but the urban life of Hovering World seems rather like a generic
metropolis. It is atmosphere that counts, a gay and sybaritic world that
is distinguished by Julian’s reflections (“the mind orders
events”) and the questions he poses as he visits or parties
(“pressing his friend for the contents of his hidden spaces”). Names
of angels and names of characters ring loudly and metaphorically. With a
best friend named Adam, is Julian the apostate?

In spite of a supposedly linear progression and structure, the author
is apparently offering us a collage; significantly, Julian at one point
tears pages from his notebook and scatters them from a rooftop onto the
city. Dubé appears content to let his collage resolve itself into one
question: “whether the man is being pulled into the world of the
angel, or if the angel is being drawn into [his].” It is a nice
conceit appropriate for a novella or short story.


Dubé, Peter., “Hovering World,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 13, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/31150.