“Suddenly Something Happened” by Jimmy Beaulieu

Wow, this book was a very pleasant surprise. It is the first English translation of Québécois cartoonist Beaulieu’s comics, which are rendered in charming and sometimes downright beautiful pencils. As a writer Beaulieu reminds me of Harvey Pekar, adapting short tales of his own life and his views on music, politics, relationships, and québécois culture (especially the difference between living in Quebec City and Montreal). It’s fitting that I read the book on the train after a quick stopover in Montreal, one that was long enough to remind me of how vibrant (and a little crazy) it is there.

Beaulieu also resembles Pekar in that he sounds like a crank sometimes, but a harmless one in the end. I found myself identifying with him often, especially in the relationship stories. It was also interesting to read his afterword about his own tinkering with the English translation. My French is far worse than his English, so I hope more translations are in the works.