Robert McBryde Author: CBC radio, literary non-fiction, vignettes and sketches, creative memoirs, satire, autobiography, family relations, raising children, aging, travel, social commentary, love and marriage, immigrant experience, living in Quebec and in France, translation: English-French; French-English

Funny, manic, and wistful… self-deprecating creative nonfiction…The author, Robert McBryde, a professional translator, has been compared to David Sedaris for the sometimes-snarky autobiographical satire characterizing his literary sketches. Many of the stories in his book have been featured on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio network.

Author Robert McBryde

I’ve written a new book of creative non-fiction entitled My Time with You Has Been Short but Very Funny, recently published and on the market for a couple of weeks now. The book is based on stories that I told over the years as a writer/ broadcaster and host on CBC radio based in Quebec City, Canada.

The book is available via my website. The purchase links are at the bottom of the home page.

Apparently the Indigo platform has not yet been activated.

I will post blogs twice per week, normally Wednesday and Friday afternoons at around 4:30 p.m. (Eastern Time). Stay tuned!

Here is an excerpt from a published vignette. You can read the entire sketch in my book.

Excuse my French
I’ve lived most of my adult life in cultures where people can’t pronounce, or even fathom, my family name.

It all started when I spent a year in Neuchatel Switzerland as a scholarship student at the age of 17. I soon realized that the name McBryde was a linguistic stumbling block of the first order. For most Swiss people, the “Mc” part was incomprehensibly weird and had to be amputated; hence I became Monsieur Robert LONG PAUSE Breed.

This trend continued in Quebec City, where I began my teaching career at the age of 26. Whenever the name had to be announced at a hospital or the like, the general pattern went something like this: “Monsieur Robert…{huge pause, cackling, “c’est bizarre”} Mack…Breed.” Often there was general huffing, puffing, apologizing, and fussing. I learned to raise my hand at the first sign of gulping and gasping and would put the poor person out of their misery by stepping forward preemptively, “c’est moi.”

This ritual was sometimes accompanied by more or less well-intentioned questions concerning my origins. “D’où venez-vous,” the person might ask, with a hint of distrust and trepidation. After living in Quebec City for over 30 years, I began to answer “Sainte-Foy” (the suburb where we raised our kids). But that usually prompted a quick rebuttal: “Mais d’où venez-vous… vraiment?” I never managed to acquire a Quebecois membership card.

One day in about 1987 this kid named François-Paul knocked at the door of our house. He was around six years old. I answered the door and in my inimitable French, I launched into a long-winded explanation of our son Daniel’s absence, complete with rhetorical flourishes and what I felt was a masterful command of the subjunctive. There was a protracted pause. Then our pint-sized visitor let out the baffled sound frequently emitted by Francophone Quebecers when they’re totally stumped: “EUH?”

At a very early age, our sons dealt with their tainted linguistic antecedents by speaking like certain local cab drivers, sprinkling all discourse with the vast array of French-Canadian swear words derived from centuries of Catholicism. They became full-fledged speakers of Quebecois.

However, the family name remained a thorn in their side. After years of enduring the gurgle, cackle, and long pause routine before his name was announced at school activities or sports events, our older son Dan announced that he wanted to change his name to Martin Roy.

Having a father like me was unbearably humiliating for our sons when they were little kids. They forgave their mom’s exotic Slovak accent more than my occlusive Anglo massacre of the French tongue. In addition to my funny French, our boys were mortified by my corny jokes and unfortunate choice of garments. They were extremely reluctant to bring school friends over to our house. On those rare occasions when they invited someone over, I received clear instructions: “Stay in your room. Don’t speak.”

Our son David had a succinct message when an appearance on my part couldn’t be averted: “Act normal at all times.”

‘Acting normal’ has always been a bridge too far for me.

I once made the mistake of disclosing in front of our boys that I had been mistaken for a vagrant in a Quebec City government office. This was the proverbial last straw for the boys. They ordered me to donate my Michelin tire man winter coat and swishing snow pants to charity and to ask their permission before acquiring any other garments or accessories. The earrings I sported were also targeted by the purge. It was enough that we had no car and that our lawn was festooned with dandelions. It was high time that I dressed like Jean Provencher, the father of Dan’s friend, who wore a ritzy suit and drove a sports car. They couldn’t do anything about my accent, but they could spruce me up.

When my sons were kids, they wanted to trade me in for a newer model. Just like I had wanted to do with my own dad.

If you purchase a book via the platform of your choice, please leave a review!

And if you have comments about my blog posts, I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me via my website, and I’ll get back to you asap. That’s a promise!
Here is a link to a cool group book review blog:

My Time With you Has Been Short But Very Funny by Author Robert McBryde

My Time With You Has Been Short But Very Funny, a review by Di

And this is a link to Goodreads. A great place for reading about new books and reviews.

And finally Amazon…

Happy reading!

Your Friend,