A graduate student at McGill University in Montreal, haunted by ontological angst, is torn between his love for a French-Canadian neighbor and his guilt over her mentally ill husband.
[Lovers and madmen] has all the ingredients for a compelling story: suspense, action, tragedy, romance, and humor, all conveyed with delicious descriptions. Every page holds the reader’s interest and keeps him turning the page. I enjoyed the book immensely and was sorry to see the story end. . . . [It] would make a great movie.
Beverly Snow, professional editor

Lovers and madmen

A Novel
Lovers and madmen begins on a November night in Montreal, Canada, amid ambulances and police cars. Cody Kohl, a graduate student, overhears a woman declare her love for another man. “She whispered, ‘Pleure-pas. Nous sommes ensemble. Nous serons toujours ensemble.’ Don’t cry. We are together. We will always be together.”

His head still reeling and his body aching from some sort of accident, Cody wanders to his favorite refuge—the trails of Mount Royal. As a snow storm begins, Cody slips into unconsciousness. He lies on a bed of leafmeal under gathering snow.

Cody’s dream-thoughts float back to February of the previous winter, to the day when Cody first met his French-Canadian neighbor, Nicolette Étienne. From there, the romantic yet harrowing year replays in Cody’s subconscious, including moments like these:

Taking crunching, squeaking steps in the snow of McGill University’s frozen campus, Cody tries his best to be open to the musings of his friend Bevan, a vagabond philosopher originally from Czechoslovakia. But Cody, somewhat drunk, finds himself resenting Bev when the older man calmly crosses a frozen top layer of deep snow, while Cody sinks down and has to plow through like an icebreaker.

In summer, the combination of barely restrained lust for Nicolette and passages from Lady Chatterley's Lover send Cody “out the door like a swollen, turgid arrow.” Rounding a corner onto rue Sainte-Catherine, his lust is only mocked by a three-story, neon depiction of a nude woman above one of the striptease clubs. “Her giant looped-neon nipples flashed, confirming the eroticism in the air. She justified my horniness.” After a stop inside, he moves east to the darkest realms of Montreal’s gritty streets. He ends up having a sexual, but unconsummated, interlude with a prostitute. Afterward, he feels sad for the prostitute and disgusted with himself.
I ran west on St. Catherine, cursing James Joyce and his mythologizing of the human experience. There was nothing epic here, just desperate wraiths stealing out of the shadows long enough to glean what they can from the living. And the living, like myself, like grave robbers—no, like necrophiliacs—exchanging a bit of their soul for a quick thrill before returning to the light without stain.
Cody girds himself for more of the chaste love affair with Nicolette, living for their summer nights drinking wine on the balcony, talking and hoping for a slight breeze. Anything to be near her. Soon enough, though, Guy Étienne, Nicolette’s husband, suffers a complete mental breakdown. The trauma brings her into Cody’s waiting arms.
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In their newfound intimacy, Nicolette finally opens up about the tragedy that haunts Guy to his core. The tragedy of the Étiennes’ past bizarrely echoes an event of Cody’s own history—a past decision that torments him, and contributes to his night terrors.

For Nicolette and Cody, the romance of their journey from subtle flirtation to full-on love affair is tainted. Guilt over her sick husband oppresses and twists the initial excitement until their affair is no more than an empty, carnal binge. And while Nicolette uses this excess to numb her emotions, Cody’s psyche grows more confused. More delusional.
Autumn had always been my favorite season on Mount Royal. Morning mists carry warm, loamy scents from the earth and trees. An early maturing sun warms bright afternoons. I threw my head back and sauntered along the path, dazzled and dazed by the interplay of 
a million vermilion leaves. I was secured again by Nicki’s love.
In the end, Fate provides Cody with the chance to become that “solid, flesh-and-blood man” whom, so far, he has only glimpsed as a reflection in Nicolette’s eyes. But taking that chance could cost him his life.
Myths On Mount Royal is on file with the United States Copyright Office; the registration number is TXu 979-144.
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