Reader Profile: Matthew Tétreault

For every day of our Indiegogo campaign, we’ll be sharing profiles from readers and supporters of Glass Bookshop both local to the city and from across Canada. Visit our campaign page now to claim cool perks and support us in building a beautiful brick-and-mortar space in downtown Edmonton. And read on to discover why today’s featured reader is excited to one day visit Glass Bookshop!

Matthew Tétreault is a French-Métis writer of fiction, and is from the Ste. Anne area of southeast Manitoba. He holds a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Winnipeg, and is currently a graduate student in English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta. His first book, What Happened on the Bloodvein, is a soft-spoken yet gripping collection of short stories out through Pemmican Publications in 2016. He is writing a novel about Francophone Métis identity as part of his Master of Arts thesis. Read his profile to discover why he values books and how his reading tastes have changed over the years.

How did books and the act of reading come to be meaningful to you?
When I was 10 or 12 years old and reading at night with a flashlight under the bed sheets after my parents had yelled me for the nth time to go to sleep, books offered both an escape and a glimpse at the incredible possibilities of the world. They nourished my dreams and first inspired me to write.

What is your relationship now to books and reading?
Books dominate my life, both personal and professional. When I’m not reading, thinking about, or studying a book or twenty, I’m trying to write one. And though I tend to read less while writing creatively, I always return to books afterward, famished, devouring as many as I can. For me, books are nourishment.

Is there a book that has had significant impact on you?
It is difficult to pinpoint a particular book that has had a greater impact on me than some other, as each book becomes a stepping stone, leading toward some broadening horizon, but some stand out for their specific influences—those books which end up on the small shelf above my desk where I write, within easy reach. The reasons vary—from compelling literary styles to the effective weight of narrative; from the way a line breaks to the knock-you-on-your-ass way that rhythm and image build; from unfamiliar worlds to a safe, comfortable sense of home.

Short story collections from Chekhov, Joyce, Carver, and Hemingway, from Atwood and Margaret Laurence, and Richard Ford and Denis Johnson dominated for a time, as well as novels such as Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Recently, works from closer to home have grown in significance for me: Gabrielle Roy and Miriam Toews’ work set in rural Manitoba; Joshua Whitehead’s eye-opening portrait of queer life in Winnipeg; Louise Erdrich’s The Plague of Doves, for its breadth of Métis history, how it weaves Métis culture throughout its familiar and recognizable setting in the Red River valley; and Katherena Vermette’s The Break, for its piercing, unwavering look at a rough and gritty Winnipeg.

How does literature influence your sense of community?
Literature is one of the few things I can talk at length about with strangers and friends alike. That shared experience of reading good work, and talking about it, fosters, builds, and reveals communities. The power of literature to strengthen our capacity for empathy nurtures our communities.

How do you find new books or writers?
Word of mouth—both in person and through social media—continues to be my primary method of discovering new books and writers. I rely on the recommendation of keen and avid readers.

Can you share a memorable experience you’ve had in a bookstore? What makes it stand out for you?
For me the most memorable experiences in bookshops are those times when everything slips away while browsing through the shelves, on the cusp of choosing a world to enter.

What do you think Glass Bookshop could offer Edmonton’s community of readers and writers?
Glass Bookshop has the potential to offer a selection of literature that celebrates diverse possibilities, lesser-known, marginalized voices and worlds not as often seen in so-called mainstream literature.

Want to help make this reader’s dream for Glass Bookshop a reality? Support Glass Bookshop’s Indiegogo campaign by buying some cool perks today here:

Matt Tetrault
Matthew Stepanic