Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Guest Post: Gabriel Rheaume

The Shores We Walk

Gabriel Rheaume reveals the issues and inspiration behind his novel,
The Shores We Walk; a tale of addiction and hope

I came to write The Shores We Walk from a statement I made to my girlfriend, who is now deceased. I told her that her family was so dysfunctional that someone should write a book about them. As time passed, I became more interested in the idea and of pursuing it myself. When she took her life at the age of 19, I made a vow to myself that this book would transpire. So I took a creative writing class in college and it all started from there.

Her death led me to alcoholism and drug addiction. As my addiction became worse, my writing style transformed into surreal and delusional accounts of memories and life itself. As time progressed, my best friend died of a heroin overdose in my apartment while I was sleeping, and another one of my close friends passed away due to unexplained causes. All of these things continued to come out in my writing, so I decided to write the book as a tribute to all of them, and to write it in a way that felt like being on drugs, as well as bouts of psychosis, and visits from beyond the grave.

The book grew while I was in and out of rehab, but it wasn’t until I got my own addictions under control that I was able to wrap up the story, get an editor and self-publish The Shores We Walk.

Although it is a tragedy, there is a ray of hope. I recommend the book to those struggling with addiction or have a family member who is an addict, and those just curious about the lifestyle of a junkie. It is a fast-paced read, which is brutally honest and painful, but also written in lyrical prose.

What is the book about?

When all of the people close to Francis end up dying, a lot of questions are left in the air while he falls into a deep psychosis. The story is written through a veil of drugs and visits from beyond the grave. It is a love story and a tragedy; a struggle with faith and some brief moments of hope. Through the darkness there is also much beauty.

“In The Shores We Walk, Francis, based on a postmodern St Francis of Assisi, narrates the story of four people as they slowly self-destruct and battle drug addiction, homelessness and poverty. While Gabriel attended Wayne State University, he saw such tragic things every day.  He was inspired by the fact that even though these people had nothing, they never lost sight of what really mattered to them. He realised that life contains more joy than sorrow and wished more people would recognise that simple fact. When asked about his experiences in downtown Detroit, he simply says, “When you see a homeless man with a larger smile than a rich man, you have to question what’s actually important in your life.” Sandusky Tribune


If the weathered barns along the road did not reveal their age, it would seem like going back in time. He had not visited her cottage since the snow had fallen. It is off one of Michigan’s Great Lakes with a beach that has a coast with no near end. There is no view beyond the lake and sky. Sometimes freight ships sit near the horizon, slowly drifting in time with the clouds. At times the sky and the lake become indistinguishable. There is not a better easel for the sunset than the framed sky above this vast oasis. To sit afloat in the center of any large mass of water has an unfathomable magnificence. It is like analyzing the one infinite living second that is recognizable as life. The horizon can be divided by two shades, that of the water, and of the air. There is no end to this one-second as there is seemingly no end to the polar vision of the water and the sky.
     Each season is equally enchanting. Lake Huron in winter is deep blue with waves frozen to the white beach. The barren rolling, snow-covered hills are like a desert. The wind forms drifts that are small cliffs.
     The spring is a time of new life. The green is so vibrant that plants glow in the daylight. Blossoms decorate trees like white and pink ribbons. The air is as fresh as rich, black, soil.
     In the summer, the purple chicory grows in fields of grass. Queen Anne's Lace makes groups of wild plants flowers look like bouquets. The breeze from the lake is cool and comforting.
     The colors of the leaves in autumn are almost unnatural. A rainbow falls from the sky and the land becomes a palette of trees.
                                                                     (This excerpt is unedited, as supplied, Vickie)

What else are you working on:

Right now I don’t have a work in progress, but I've been writing short stories and poetry. I've been more focused on marketing this work. That's why I'm putting The Shores We Walk on sale for 99 cents on Kindle.

What writers or books do you love?

I have a long list of favourite authors and books, so, I think I'll just narrow it down to my top reads of all time. So, in no particular order:
Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters;
Bret Easton Ellis, Rules of Attraction;
Tom Robbins, Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates;
Jack Keroauc, On the Road;
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin;
Allen Ginsberg, Howl;
T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland;
William Faulkner, The Sound and The Fury;
Aldous Huxley, The Island; and
William Burroughs, Junkie.


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Twitter: OscarOptimism


You can read an earlier interview with Gabriel here:

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