Factory Summers by Guy Delisle (translated by Helge Dascher and Rob Aspinall) is the author’s personal story of working a summer job, starting at age sixteen at a paper mill in Quebec City, where his father also worked. I have read four of Delisle’s works already and had the expectation that I would love this one too. Guy employed black, white, various shades of grey plus orange, which represented the colour of his shirt as well as the noxious fumes wafting throughout the mill.
We meet the characters who work beside him, ranging from an unnamed “big guy” who shows Delisle the ropes but is a bit too hands-on for his liking, to a budding bodybuilder named Marc who Delisle is sorry to discover had resigned before his next annual summer shift had started.
The enormous rollers of newsprint always foul up. The paper tears off, making colossal piles that need to be swept up. The onomatopoeic sound bubbles are always orange too, screeching PAF whenever the newsprint comes off its roller.
While Delisle is at work in regular twelve-hour shifts, he has a lot of time to dream about doing a job he’d really rather be doing, such as animation. He attends animation courses in Toronto during the rest of the years and the story ends with him getting a full-time job with an animation company.
This book was printed on very thick paper, giving it a heft and volume that made it seem longer than its 154 pages. I easily read it in a day and was disappointed when I finished it. How I’d love to read it over days instead of hours.