Candid, Uninhibited Field Notes from the Club Scene

Hear author Gabriel Cholette’s new English translation at the Violet Hour reading series

Scenes from the Underground, an illustrated memoir

Written by Gabriel Cholette

Full-colour illustrations by Jacob Pyne

Translated by Elina Taillon

Publication date is Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Violet Hour queer reading series, hosted by Christopher DiRaddo

Wednesday, October 5

Fascinating and contemporary, in Scenes from the Underground (Oct. 4, House of Anansi Press) a Montreal club kid getting his PhD in medieval studies travels from Montreal to Berlin and Manhattan with stops in New York, Miami and Paris. Originally written as a series of Instagram posts, his journey through the bathrooms and dark rooms of clubs and raves explores gender identity, relationships and the anonymous sex, drugs and techno music that define gay nightlife. Here, dubious decisions and intimate connections go hand in hand. The book is a stunning portrait of the Instagram generation. Hear author Gabriel Cholette among others at the Violet Hour reading series, hosted by Christopher DiRaddo on October 5 from 6-7:30 pm. The book contains mature content, language and images.

“If you’re walking here, at this hour and in this place, it’s because you desire something you don’t have, and that thing, I can provide it to you.” Paris drug dealer, Scenes from the Underground

Recrafting jotted social media entries is an insightful, fresh approach to creating an artwork-filled memoir. Newly translated from Les carnets de l’underground, Cholette’s book is a hybrid of fragment and image that was developed on Instagram as a creative laboratory. Accompanied by Jacob Pyne’s full-colour illustrations, which perfectly punctuate the narrator’s occasional self-destructive melancholy, Scenes from the Underground delivers candid, fully uninhibited field notes of the club scene; an adventure of self-discovery, doubt and vulnerability. The fun and moving book is a party in your hands, in small, safe doses.

For House of Anansi Press publisher Leigh Nash, Cholette’s book is an engaging peek into eclectic characters’ lives, “It’s a punchy, provocative collection of vignettes that lets readers dip in and out, just like they might scroll through their social media feeds—Scenes from the Underground is the analogue cousin to Tumblr and Instagram for anyone needing a screen break,” she said.

Cholette’s initial impetus for the book was to impress illustrator Jacob Pyne, who he had recently met, “I told him I was writing erotic literature, since he was doing erotic illustrations,” he said. “Then I started writing the book. I initially kept it to myself and a few friends but realized it’s important for gay men to talk about and celebrate these often taboo, secret experiences that create a lifestyle of hiding, which is not good for mental wellbeing.”

Gabriel Cholette. Photo Credit: Justine Latour

Another important element for Cholette is the notion of queer spaces, “Often queers are associated with ‘night’ venues—we work in bars and we party at night. I want to break this stigma to show that these spaces are important, and also want to see more ‘day’ spaces. This will come with advocating for more inclusivity in society, which is what I’m aiming for with this book.” Cholette has written about the recent trans and queer initiative to claim the right to practice at a Mile End skatepark, usually occupied by straight males.

Like memory, the intensely personal work is not chronological, yet is connected and flows, with the sometimes seemingly random clips meshing. Cholette is likeable throughout, a self-described low-key nerd who’s a bit clumsy. In this fascinating dive into another world for most, his vivid descriptions bring readers along for the voyeuristic ride following his story as a 15-year-old just coming out twink to today.

Violet Hour’s goal is to introduce emerging and established LGBTQ writers and their work to a larger audience. Place du Village has invited them to present this evening of writers featuring Gabriel Cholette, Virginie Savard, Su J. Sokol and Neil Smith.

Gabriel Cholette’s Scenes from the Underground (House of Anansi Press)

Available October 4, 2022  ISBN: 978-1-4870-1075-1

The book contains mature content, language and images

Violet Hour queer reading series, hosted by Christopher DiRaddo

Wednesday, October 5, 6-7:30 pm Facebook event

Outdoors at Place du Village (a park situated on Ste. Catherine Street east, corner Wolfe)