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Volkswagen Blues

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  1,188 Ratings  ·  74 Reviews
A 2005 Canada Reads Selection.

In this classic road novel, Jacques Poulin tells the story of a man in search of his brother. The geographical journey — through Detroit, into Chicago, on to St. Louis, along the Oregon Trail and into California — becomes a metaphor for the exploration of the history of the French in North America.
Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 15th 2004 by Cormorant Books (first published 1984)
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Karine Mon coin lecture
Oct 09, 2011 Karine Mon coin lecture rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: quebec
4,5 en fait.
Ce roman donne le goût de partir en road trip au bout du monde pour se trouver soi-même. J'ai adoré.
Anne-Gigi  Chan
Nov 04, 2011 Anne-Gigi Chan rated it really liked it

A 40-year-old French-Canadian writer from Montreal set out to find his long lost brother, whom he had not seen for 20 years. The only trace he had was a 15-year-old postcard from a small town in Quebec. At the beginning of his quest, he picked up a hitchhiker, a young Métis girl. Together, driving an old Volkswagen minivan, they traced the footsteps of the French explorers from the St. Lawrence to St. Louis, Missouri and then headed west along the Oregon Trail. This turned out to be a journey of
Sep 24, 2010 Jocelyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Le livre est d'une longueur et d'une platitude inconcevables, les personnages ne sont pas attachants et enfantins, et l'écriture est nulle. Jacques Poulin aura tout de même eu le mérite de m'intéresser à l'émigration vers l'ouest des pionniers américains mais jamais je n'aurais fais ce voyage (Gaspé - San Francisco) en compagnie de ses deux personnages car j'aurais sans doute débarqué à peine rendu à Toronto pour ramasser une autre voiture en stop ou tout simplement retourner à la maison et de l ...more
Rachel Baker
L'écrivain de la douceur: Poulin is aptly named. I enjoyed this book tremendously. His words are beautifully chosen. As Pitsémine says, one word is worth a thousand pictures.

While this is a road novel about crossing the continent in search of Jack's brother, the text also reimagines the place of French Canadians in America.

Definitely invites a third reading :)

Just finished a third reading. This is a rich text, nuanced and delicate.

Just finished fourth reading. It calls attention to the violence
John Tessitore
I wanted to like this book, and tried to like it until the end. But it's the kind of book a Canadian might write after a single road trip through the U.S. The simple plot (one man's search for his kin) skips from iconic image to iconic image, like red-white-and-blue birdseed on a wide open path--and sure enough the cliches lead rather directly (always West) to the narrator's long lost brother. In the real America, the icons are always less iconic up close, the people are always more complicated ...more
Jun 25, 2015 Astrid rated it it was ok
The writing just is - it isn't great, nor particular in any way - just simplistic and at times somewhat childish and boring. Poulin was inspired by Kerouac, yes, that much is evident in the simple fact that this is a road novel, and that there is a search of some sort for someone (here the protagonist is seeking his long lost brother; in On the Road, there's a faded search for Dean Moriarty's father), but the resemblances stop there. There is no greatness here and no awe for the road, and defini ...more
Heather Judson
Mar 25, 2012 Heather Judson rated it really liked it
I read this book for second year a Canadian Lit class. It's more than just a road trip novel, it's a journey of self discovery, and also of Native American history, while also critiquing the American Dream. It's multi-layered. Even if you're not into close reading or analysis, it's a wonderfully quirky story if you're into that sort of thing.
L Jung
Mar 23, 2008 L Jung rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eh, it was in French.. who knows what it was about! It introduced the great Yves Montand to me though. For this, I am forever grateful.
Oct 08, 2009 Andrea rated it really liked it
Very nice...the charaters were rich and strange. I enjoyed the journey more than the conclusion I think, but then again, I need to ruminate for a bit.
Aug 18, 2007 Amber rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people with interest in roadtrips or canadian history
this book was really sweet and fun to read. not particularly challenging but exciting in that it is relaxing and you learn a lot about canadian history.
Mary Anne Thompson
Mar 12, 2017 Mary Anne Thompson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bingo-2017
A deceptively simple fable about a man and a younger girl travelling across the NA continent. The man is a Quebec writer, suffering writer's block, whose nom de plume is Jack Waterman; his companion is Pitsemine, mostly known as La Grande Sauterelle, who travels with her cat, Chop Suey. They travel in a 1970's Hippie Volkswagon bus equipped with all one needs to travel and live. Jack is looking for his brother, Theo, whose last postcard was fifteen years ago and La Grande Sauterelle needs to rec ...more
Feb 09, 2013 Fiona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a refreshing story... Two characters, randomness, a quest... This book is so full of love, simple love, but also history, hurt, disappointment and anger, too. I just love this kind of books, because even though the story seems so peculiar and maybe, in a way, unrealistic, it really is about life, in the end.
I just couldn't stop reading, I felt like I knew both main characters, even though not many specific details are given about them. We don't know their full names, we don't know their age
Brodie Hay
Volkswagen Blues Review
By: Brodie Hay

Have you ever made a decision to find something that has been lost for what feels like an eternity, and just spent a day or however long it took just to find the lost item? In the novel Volkswagen Blues by Jacques Poulin, The forty year old protagonist with the pen name Jack Watermark experiences a bout of writer's block so he sets out on a journey to find his brother who has been gone for twenty years. All Jack has to find his brother is a fifteen year old
Ce roman, c'est Jack, un écrivain qui se cherche et qui manque d'inspiration, la Grande Sauterelle, une Métisse qui ne sait plus trop où elle en ait, vous et le vieux Volks. Vous partez de la Gaspésie jusqu'à San Fransisco en passant par la « Oregon Trail » à la recherche du frère de Jack avec pour seul indice une carte postale représentant un texte de Jacques Cartier rédigé en vieux français envoyée par le frère de Jack vingt ans plus tôt. Cette carte, c'est le dernier signe de vie que son frèr ...more
Nov 22, 2014 Vontel rated it really liked it
I recently discovered this author, with his book "Autumn Rounds", a delightful book, and am now trying to read as many of his translated works as I can. "Volkswagon Blues" is excellent, both in its' character development, the plot, and the way French exploration and aboriginal history are incorporated along with Canadian and US history and landmarks from that era forward.

I really enjoyed the book. It is again an interesting story about people and relationships. In this case, a Quebec writer, Ja
Michelle Boyer
Merci beaucoup!

This is a simply wonderful story that I am so pleased to have encountered in a course on Travel Narratives. I won't lie, my favorite character may be the cat, but that's because he is such a cute addition to the story that I cannot help myself.

I suggest that you look into some of the allusions to get a full understanding of the text. For example, "The Grasshopper" is also a French film. Throughout some of these allusions add for a deeper level of understanding.

The ending is no
Andrés Canella
Aug 17, 2015 Andrés Canella rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
"Un livre n'est jamais complet en lui-même; si on veut le comprendre, il faut le mettre en rapport avec d'autres livres… écrits par d'autres personnes." C'est la Grande Sauterelle, un des deux personnages principaux de Volkswagen Blues qui révèle une vérité du livre de Jacques Poulin. Lu seul, c'est un road trip assez amusant, avec plusieurs anecdotes sur l'histoire des pionniers français et américains. Cependant, le livre s'appuie sur les grands textes qui le précédent dans ce genre: The Electr ...more
Jan 11, 2008 Donna rated it liked it
Shelves: canlit

“…’What do you write?’

“ ‘Novels,’ said Jack.

“ ‘What kind of novels?’

“ It was the standard question, and he’d never been able to come up with a satisfactory answer. How many kinds of novels were there? What category did his belong to? To answer these questions he would have had to be able to state the main subject of his novels….And that he could not do, for the simple reason that, for him, writing was not a means of expression or communication but rather a form of exploration. Each of his
Erma Odrach
Sep 20, 2009 Erma Odrach rated it really liked it
Volkswagen Blues is by French-Canadian author Jacques Poulin. It's a road book that starts in the Gaspé (one of my favorite places in Canada), and after passing through Toronto, Chicago, St. Louis and more, it ends in San Francisco. Main character Jack Waterman is in search of his long-lost brother Théo, and at the beginning of the book picks up a young Métis hitchiker and her cat Chop Suey. Together they embark on their long trek, along the way exploring history and the plight of the native tri ...more
Apr 24, 2011 GregCarey10 rated it it was amazing
Great Book! It is essentially a french canadian man's search for his lost brother, along with his native female sidekick. The pair traverse the united states, exploring the country much like the early french settlers did, following the oregon trail, and finally ending up in California. Each chapter has a significant story told in it, a way of passing the time while on the road. It is a road trip novel, very similar to Jack Kerouac's On the Road. I recommend this book to everyone. Really easy rea ...more
Czarny Pies
May 26, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it liked it
Je suis né dans la region de Thunder Bay non loin de l'Etat de Minnesota. À sept ans, j'ai été très content de traverser la frontiere américaine et de tomber tout de suite sur les villes avec des noms francais: Grand Portage, Grand Marais, et Duluth. Bon, on est d'accord que l'on aime trouver des vestiges de notre histoire un peu par tout en Amérique mais Jacques Poulin va trop loin quand il essaie de construire un roman entier à partir d'un telle experience d'enfant.

Heureusement Jacques Poulin
Jul 01, 2016 Debbie rated it really liked it
(Fiction, Canadian, Quebecois, translated) 3.5 star rating

I’ve wanted to read this since Rock Carrier championed it in CBC’s Canada Reads in 2005.

Translated from French, VW Blues is the story of an impulsive road trip from Gaspe in Quebec to Las Vegas, Nevada to find the protagonist’s brother, with whom he has had no contact for 20 years.

I thought it dragged in spots although, in the end, everything tied together.

Read this: if you’ve thought about going off to find long-lost relatives. 3 stars
Mike Norton
Sep 04, 2014 Mike Norton rated it liked it
(I read this novel in French, but I write now in English.) This is a road-trip story that combines traditional elements of that genre with mini-lessons in Canadian and North America history. The novel starts strongly, but ends weakly. Strong characters, and an appealing plot with a hint of mystery give way to ever more over-bearing history lessons and a truly anti-climactic ending. Still, it is not a bad light read. And for anyone practicing French as a second language it is highly recommended a ...more
May 06, 2016 Etienne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un bon roman québécois, même si je ne comprends pas tout à fait pourquoi on en parle comme un des plus grands de tous les temps. Tout est bien, personnage, histoire et style d'écriture, mais toutes es choses sonbt également fait tout en simplicité, ce qui rend la lecture agréable, mais un peu trop légère. J,ai particulièrement les anecdotes historiques glissées à travers les pages. Peutêtr epas le grand clcassique auquel je croyais m'attaquer, mais définitivement un livre qui vaut la peine d'êtr ...more
Alonso Rios
Sep 16, 2016 Alonso Rios rated it it was amazing
I got this book in a secondhand bookstore at Montreal; a young woman in charge of the book selection/acquisitions recommended it to me. I read the French version. I loved the peacefulness the language transmits. I also enjoyed the respect each of the characters (including the cat) professes to each other. I learned a lot and was very entertained by the story. I'm looking forward to read more from the author.
Aug 28, 2009 Kim rated it liked it
This is the type of story that I make up in my head all the time: travelling across a continent (in this case North America) on the search for something important (his brother) and being a free-spirit who's good at mechanical stuff (La Grande Sauterelle). However, these stories are usually much better in my head than they are on paper and this is one of those stories. Also, I get the feeling it would be better in French. I feel like I'm missing out on something.
Alithia Hanne
Feb 02, 2016 Alithia Hanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Een oudere man en een jonge half-Indiase vrouw leggen per Volkswagenbusje de route van de Amerikaanse veroveraars landinwaarts opnieuw af, vertrekkend vanuit Québec (Canada), op zoek naar een lang uit het oog verloren broer in het gezelschap van een kat. Heerlijke roadnovel met mooie Frans-Canadese woorden.
Jesus of Suburbia
Aug 18, 2014 Jesus of Suburbia rated it it was ok
I still dont get why jack and la grande sauterelle didnt have sex. Seriously this book sucked balls except for those moments when they made some references to Montreal and Quebec city, Toronto, Kitchenette and etc. Also the stories about indians were pretty cool, but the overall plot, writing style, and interactions among characters were fake and unconvincig. Recommended for Quebecois.
Feb 05, 2014 Olga rated it liked it
A road journey looking for traces of personal and ethnic bonds leads the reader from Québec to "City Lights" bookstore in San Francisco, following intuitive and accidental detours, hopping on literary and historical landmarks. Intense and light at the same time, it weaves in a great deal of intertextual references.
Jul 29, 2015 Billy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On comprend pourquoi ce livre est parmi nos classiques québécois. J'ai adoré l'histoire et le voyage autant sur la route qu'ìntérieur que vivent les deux protagonistes. Un récit émouvant qui me donne le goût de lire Kerouac (Sur la route) et en apprendre encore plus sur nos racines amérindiennes, entres autres... À lire!
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Why is this book not an ebook? 2 11 Sep 08, 2013 10:39AM  
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