“A Day in The Life” with Montréal writer Gabriel Cholette

Gabriel Cholette fascinates by his atypical background. In addition to being an author and professor of creative writing at the University of Montreal, he has a Doctorate in Medieval Literature.

Writing the bio of this modern-day knight makes me realize that our friendship is major, in every sense of the word. I have watched with admiration his beginnings as an author; through short stories, and surfing between fiction and autobiography with works such as Six and a Half Inches and Chlamydia Latté Soya Xavier Dolan.

Gabriel gives meaning to the expression, “to be an open book”. His writing is uncompromising, true and raw. A revelatory destabilizing frankness for some as it is so honest. If Gabriel is capable of putting himself on exhibition, it is because he himself knows how to welcome without judging. He offers himself to the readers, without fear or restraint. Gabriel knows how to normalize the difference with a disarming enthusiasm.

He has been a beacon for me in the acceptance of my homosexuality. He plays this role for a whole new audience with Scenes from the Underground, his newly translated novel (Les carnets de l’underground) published by House of Anansi Press. This theme is an intrinsic part of his creations. They are not only captivating accounts of journeys through the nights of Berlin, New York and Montreal but also indelible traces of our past adventures. They represent the mirror of a community too often confronted with unanswered questions. These enigmas are central to Gabriel’s thinking and writing.

Reading Cholette is like dipping your hand into a bag of chips thinking you can control your hunger, only to get to the bottom too quickly and want more. You have been warned!

As well, Gabriel frequently publishes engaging essays in the art and politics magazine Liberté. To witness the breadth of his talent, see his upcoming show, rock bottom at MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels) in January 2023.

-Written by Jean-François Garneau – best friend for 18 years!

Gabriel Cholette
Hey! This is me, Gabriel. My book has shown my life as an ongoing quest for excesses. But what happens after all that partying? What happens in the morning, when I have slept fitfully?
Gabriel Cholette
I have to say, nothing starts the day better than meeting up with one’s coffee addiction. It’s necessary after a night out, with a big glass of water. Here I do it on Laurier Street in the heart of Montreal!
After my coffee, on most days I work, whether it is as a creative writing teacher at Université de Montréal or as a researcher of medieval literature.
Then, I usually try to do some sports – the boys and the boyfriend love a hot body, but I try not to focus too much on others’ expectations and try instead to think of the well-being that comes with being physically active.
And then, I eat lunch wherever I am. I love eating. It can be on the beach…
… or it can be, preferably, with my mom at Restaurant Toqué! (this was for my Ph.D. graduation – I swear it doesn’t happen that often.)
Gabriel Cholette
Then it is time for celebration! I like to go a little bit crazy with my boyfriend, now that weed is legal and that we are fully in love! It was hard for me to invest once again in a relationship, but I think I’ve done it guys, I think he is the one!
Gabriel Cholette
Now that I am on the edge of being thirty, I have a lot of existential questions on my mind. Will I go the traditional route and have a kid? Or will I invent my path in this crazy troubled world? There are many more excesses to be discovered, but at the very least I know I am surrounded by people who love me and who I am now able to love in return (these three friends are all writers, we are going to conquer the world with our words!)

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In which neighbourhood do you live?

I live in the vibrant Villeray neighbourhood! It is home to very cute cats, cafés I enjoy going to with my friends, and it has the amazing Jarry Park, where I like to go running and look at the trees. There is an intense housing crisis in Montreal at the moment, and I think Villeray will be very active in this discussion –I know I will!

What do you do?

I am a writer, my career has always been very personal. I am someone who thinks a lot, lives intensely, and I don’t always speak my mind when I am asked to do it. Journaling has helped me personally address situations in my life, writing Scenes of the Underground personally helped me break out of my shell, and my artistic vision has now become to keep this process of noting on a daily basis how I feel and whatever animates me. In a few years, I think this will be particularly nice to delve back into.

What am I working on right now?

Writing has been a way for me to imagine and encourage my transformation. At some point, because I was so addicted to pleasing others, their opinion always took precedence over mine; I thought I was like a vampire figure that had perfectly shaped himself in order to catch his prey. But the vampire figure also fascinated me, and I am now trying to find ways to queer him; the title of my piece is The Epistemology of the Vampire, a cross between The Epistemology of the Closet (Sedgwick) and Interview with the Vampire (Rice).

Where can we find your work?

Right now, in English, there is Elina Taillon’s translation, Scenes from the Underground from House of Anansi Press, available in every bookstore. I also have a piece called My Mom Goes to a Rave that has been translated by Brian O’Neill at The Malahat Review. I
have an upcoming interdisciplinary performance called rock bottom co-created with dancer Émile Pineault that will be presented in January.

Follow me on Instagram for upcoming events.