A Self-Murder Mystery
On 15 March 1977, with his wife’s consent, celebrated writer and former terrorist Hubert Aquin blew his brains out on the grounds of a Montreal convent school. Shocked by this self-murder, a filmmaker friend feels compelled to understand why Aquin killed himself - and discovers, at the heart of the tragedy, an unforgettable love story. A "documentary fiction" - a category which includes In Cold Blood and The Executioner’s Song - HA! is a seminal work that reinvents the audio-visual revolution of the last century. Interweaving photographs, documents, and images with testimony from Aquin’s friends and contemporaries, Aquin himself, and the writers and artists who influenced him, this intriguing novel takes the reader on a Joycean tour of a metropolis in the midst of political and cultural turmoil.
"[This book] is far from ordinary. It's a biographical stew, more dossier than narrative, crammed with interviews, letters, photos and maps . .. [it is] the strangely enlivening story of a chronic depressive and at the same time a sympathetic treatise on suicide that inadvertently provides excellent reasons for staying alive . .. Sheppard takes us deep into an exotic world where romantic nationalism became a generation's mad obsession, where poets and singers were suddenly society's heroes, and where otherwise sensible Montrealers spoke of revolution as if it were likely to happen at any minute . .. And yet the core of the material, Aquin's astonishing story and the still more astonishing Montreal of the 1970s, comes through clearly and unforgettably . .. Sheppard has made an exceptional book. His description of a moment in history has become in itself a bizarre literary event. " Robert Fulford, National Post
"A fabulous and astounding book. .. unique and absorbing. " Wayne Grady, author of The Quiet Limit of the World and The Bone Museum
"HA! is a truly incredible book. You are unlikely to find many that will even come close to it. " Geeta Nadkarmi, Between the Pages
"HA! is a harrowing investigation of some of the most profound and troubling aspects of the human condition. .. a brave and important work that richly deserves our attention and discussion. " Quill and Quire