We are delighted to announce that Celebrated poet, Ben Ladouceur’s debut novel I REMEMBER LIGHTS has sold to Jay and Hazel Millar at Book*hug Press!

Opening with the frame of the raids on gay bars in the late 1970s and riveting readers until its poignant closing, I REMEMBER LIGHTS is an exceptionally sensitive, charming, and jamais vu debut literary novel from one of Canada’s most gifted contemporary poets, the award-winning and inimitable Ben Ladouceur.

I REMEMBER LIGHTS follows our insatiable, perceptive, and unnamed narrator through the folly and pomp of the Expo ’67 celebrations in Montreal, Quebec. Increasingly aware of a fizzy desire to socialize and cruise through the spectacle before him, he meets Honoré, a privileged boy from Westmount, with whom he experiences his first waves of man sex in a more-than-casual relationship. Uncomfortable with the constraints Honoré imposes upon him, he leaves to stay with Étienne, a brusque-yet-lovable Francophone friend, who relishes Montreal’s queer haunts and the international bubble of young people he works with at the 1967 International and Universal Exposition. At one of many raucous parties, an unforgettable revelation comes to our narrator in the form of Tristan, a spry and beguiling Welshman contracted to work at Expo’s British Pavilion for the summer. The duo’s happenstance bond charms and disarms our guarded narrator with the luxuries of domesticity, love, and other amorous comforts that have eluded him thus far in his young life.

An epileptic, Tristan hides his condition from his employers to secure a place at Expo 67. But when a momentous seizure freezes his prospects of remaining in Canada, Tristan and the narrator regrettably separate and dream about an unknown future together. By correspondence and chance, our narrator stakes everything on a flight to England and on the promise of building a life with Tristan. Together, they rediscover their love for one another, but as society continues to impose temporal mores, they come to understand that for men like them, a choice must always be made between happiness and safety.

I REMEMBER LIGHTS, an interpersonally rich story told from the brightest of interiors,  examines the fascinating contradictions of queer life that flourished and winked at the tail end of the 1960s – when some gay men acquiesced completely to persistent social standards, others found inventive workarounds, and a burgeoning minority began to question the premise of life under capitalism and the Christian god. Deriving tension from cultural clashes between the queer factions, the code-switching, misunderstandings, and dangers these characters experience are also the all-too-recent lived experiences of a love that once dared not reveal itself to the public. But so are the jubilant parties, sex, dancing, cruising, drinking, and drugs, all the more exciting due to their bawdy and artfully grand nature – with the campiest moment in history serving as a sensational backdrop. Ben Ladouceur, with a true poet’s sensibility, wit, and keen eye for the nuance of his composites, holds out for us a moment and worldview often overlooked, in this thoroughly engaging and intimate portrait of a time and a place.

Ben Ladouceur’s second book of poetry, MAD LONG EMOTION, was selected as a CBC 2019 Book of the Year and was awarded the Archibald Lampman Prize. His first collection, OTTER, was selected as a best of 2015 by the National Post, nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, and awarded the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for best debut collection in Canada. In 2018, he won the Writers’ Trust Dayne Ogilvie Prize for emerging LGBT writers; in 2019 he won the National Magazine Award for Poetry, and his short fiction was featured in the Journey Prize Anthology, and won the Thomas Morton Prize. Ben lives on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe Nation (Ottawa).

Deal arranged by Marilyn Biderman.

Congratulations Ben!