They Won't Demolish Me! is not only a fantastic farce full of the most extraordinary comic invention. It deals with more than the funny antics of a group of oddballs who seem to be living through a never ending naughty childhood. This comedy is just one of the many levels on which the book moves, and it is a level which is firmly rooted in the serious.
"They" of the title are the developers, of course, the big guys, the capitalists, the faceless bosses who never appear. Ever expanding, "they" are also the City Administration, the English, change, progress, even death and God himself. On the other side, the "me" who resists demolition is Dorval, his house, the little man, the French Canadian, the drones in a heartless society, the irrepressible forces of life which make a man wrestle to maintain himself and the small area of the world he has claimed as his refuge against all comers. At its broadest interpretation, the book pits whatever supports life against whatever embraces death.
In terms of Carrier's own development as a writer, They Won't Demolish Me! shows signs of a new maturity. The explosive violence of La Guerre, Yes Sir!, the fused world of dreams and reality of Floralie, Where Are You?, the exuberant characters and stirring disorder of Is It the Sun, Philibert? are all here. And certainly the protests against the "goddamn capitalists" and the "maudits Anglais" are no less strong. But for the first time in his work, there is a sense that whatever is wrong is not necessarily someone else's fault. For the first time, his characters find they can laugh at their own absurdities and weaknesses. They still shout their heads off, but that has become their way of saying "we are alive; we are bursting with pain and high spirits." Carrier's characters are coming to terms with themselves. They have entered the adult world.
The Won't Demolish Me! is the book English Canada has been waiting so long to come out of Quebec. The recent literary renaissance in Canada has been nowhere more impressive than in French Canada, but...
(The entire section is 522 words.)