Stefan Christoff // recycling the news

Stefan Christoff previews his palimpsestuous affinities.

Jason Freure of The Puritan shares his thoughts on Stefan Christoff’s retrospective, an informative collection that, for better or worse, makes an art of recycling the news.

Stefan Christoff launched his English-language zine-format collection of journalism on the 2012 Quebec student strike at Another Story Bookshop just last month. The collection, Le fond de l’air est rouge, puts together all of Christoff’s articles published from April 2011, when Premier Charest first proposed raising tuition in la Belle Province to August 2012, right before the PQ were elected, largely as a result of Charest’s unpopular and oppressive response to the months-long protests.

Admittedly, my expectations for this modest chapbook were high, but the title, taken from a 1977 film about an elusive global socialist movement, captures the feeling anyone who was young or left-leaning felt in the province at the time. A page-long introduction written in April 2013 provides the state of the strike and the province today: the PQ itself recently raised tuition, municipal by-law P6 in Montreal perpetuates absurd police powers even after Bill 78 has been scrapped, and the movement’s fluffy mascot, Anarchopanda, has had his head confiscated by the SPVM. Despite the introduction, Christoff misses the opportunity to discuss the PQ’s bait-and-switch, how the provincial election took legitimacy and momentum from the movement on the streets, or the future of the province’s student movement after 2012’s dramatic climax and this year’s failure.

Don’t get me wrong, Christoff provides some valuable context regarding the organization leading up to 2012’s strike, challenges the CBC for employing the same language of austerity used by the government, and makes an interesting case for the cooperation going on between student and workers’ unions. Unfortunately, the articles should have been reworked for the print version as opposed to simply recycling the news–this would have spared readers some redundancy. Reading a series of articles written over a year and a half in quick succession means you come across the same details you read five minutes ago.

The articles are good, and they were timely when they first appeared, but non-fiction readers looking for a more enduring and retrospective analysis are encouraged to look elsewhere.

In Toronto, Le fond de l’air est rouge is available at Another Story Bookshop (315 Roncesvalles Avenue) for $6. Despite its title, the book is in English.

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