Toronto Star Reviews One Brother Shy

July 24th, 2017

Note: Several plot spoilers in this review 

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Twins reunite in quest to find father in One Brother Shy

In One Brother Shy by Terry Fallis, the search for family is also a tale of self-discovery.

Aficionados of novelist Terry Fallis’s fiction could be forgiven for thinking his new novel, One Brother Shy, might be the kind of comic turn that has earned him two Stephen Leacock Medals for Humour. But they’d be wrong. Although one central character’s somewhat chippy personality has its amusing moments, the book is more psychological whodunit than side-splitting farce. The book is also something of an ode to one of the most unique emotional bonds a human can experience — the ineffable connection shared by identical twins.

But at the narrative’s outset, the shy, diffident and, yes, chippy Ottawa-based Alex MacAskill has no idea he was separated at birth from his much more sophisticated London-based twin brother Matt Paterson. Resolving the mystery of their separation and discovering the father they never knew keeps the novel humping along at a breakneck pace.

The action begins with the death of Alex’s mother and two pictures she leaves behind as a mysterious legacy. One of them shows a man, seen only from the shoulders down, cradling two newborns in his arms. The pictures contain a clue that would be critical to tracking him down: an odd tattoo on the left arm. But Alex initially has more pressing business: finding his twin who’s out there — somewhere.

Alex possesses a useful skill to aid and abet his sleuthing. A brilliant code writer, he’s developing state-of-the-art facial-recognition software, so faster than a speeding hard drive, Alex quickly discovers his bro is a successful tech entrepreneur in London and seemingly his polar opposite, emotionally, psychologically and experientially. Or is he?

A compelling subplot in One Brother Shy is the impact of a humiliating trauma Alex experienced as a 15-year-old aspiring high-school actor. After spiking his Coke with a Viagra-like pill, two bullies lower a dazed, naked — and tumescent — Alex onto the stage of his high-school Christmas pageant and the ensuing video — “ARCHangel” — became the Internet’s first viral sensation. Humiliated, Alex retreats from life, going emotionally AWOL for the next decade, until he meets his twin.

Once reunited, the twins go in search of their father, an odyssey that takes them to Putin’s Moscow with its vestiges of Soviet-era spooks and memories of the 1972 U.S.S.R.-Canada hockey series. Eventually, they succeed in finding their dad, but that is not the book’s emotional crescendo, IMO. That transpires when shy, taciturn Alex, the one-time aspiring actor, rediscovers himself by “playing” his brother, sidelined by laryngitis just before a make-or-break corporate dog-and-pony show. But had his twin tricked him into undergoing an emotional catharsis? Alex, confrontationally: “You never lost your voice, did you?” Matt, cryptically: “I lost mine, you found yours.” Now that’s identical twin love.

One Brother Shy is a charming, affecting book with perhaps one little caveat: Fallis’s tendency to tie up all plot lines with the precision of a daytime soap. A small quibble, perhaps.

Robert Collison is a Toronto writer and editor.

Iceland Writers Retreat next April!

July 4th, 2017

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What a thrill to be invited to serve on the faculty of the 2018 Iceland Writers Retreat next April. I’ve known other writers who have attended this wonderful and respected retreat and they rave about it and the country. I have wanted to visit this special place for many years now, not just because of the very distinct literary strand that runs through the Icelandic culture, but also because of the 1972 World Chess Championships in Reykjavik, when Bobby Fischer Defeated Boris Spassky (yes, I’m a bit of a chess nerd, though you’d never guess from my play). I’ll be leading two workshops, sitting on a panel, giving a couple of readings, and doing anything and everything I’m asked to do, beaming all the way.
 
The stellar faculty for the 2018 retreat includes famed novelist Allice Hoffman, Pulitzer Prize winner Hilton Als, New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul (who I listen to each week on the Book Review podcast), two decorated Icelandic writers, and others. Registration is now open for the retreat. Why not consider joining us?
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Global Television appearance

June 28th, 2017

I was lucky enough a couple weeks ago to appear on Global Television’s popular national morning show. I was a little nervous though I hope it doesn’t show. (To watch it, click on the graphic below.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Brother Shy is a #1 Canadian Bestseller

June 23rd, 2017

What a thrill it was to discover this morning that One Brother Shy has ascended to #1 on the CBC Books Canadian Fiction Bestsellers list. This is wonderful news and I’m grateful to everyone who has supported this novel including readers, booksellers, and my great team at McClelland & Stewart.

CBC Bestsellers June 17

Update:

According to the Telegraph-Journal,  One Brother Shy also seems to be doing well in New Brunswick. Thank you New Brunswickers!

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One Brother Shy: Chapter 16

June 15th, 2017

Chapter 16 image

Welcome back to the final chapter in the podcast edition of One Brother Shy, my sixth novel.

In chapter 16, there are changes afoot at Facetech, and Alex makes some important life decisions.

Of course, your comments on One Brother Shy are always welcome here on the blog. You can also follow me on Twitter (@TerryFallis) or send me an [email protected]

I’m grateful for the support shown for the podcast. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. The novel has now been published by McClelland & Stewart (Penguin Random House) and is available in Canada wherever books are sold.

The voiceover that opens each episode of the podcast belongs to my good friend, Roger Dey.

Typewriter2 (The End)

One Brother Shy on The Morning Show

June 13th, 2017

The Morning Show

It was fun to appear on Global Television’s The Morning Show earlier today to talk about One Brother Shy. The butterflies in my gut kindly flew in formation. (Click on the photo or the link to watch it.)

One Brother Shy: Chapter 15

June 9th, 2017

Chapter 15 image Chateau Laurier bar

Welcome back to the podcast edition of my sixth novel, One Brother Shy.

In Chapter 15, Alex makes some progress with Dr. Wendy Weaver and then meets the mysterious girl in the red dress he’s been searching for since 2005.

Of course, your comments on One Brother Shy are always welcome here on the blog. You can also follow me on Twitter (@TerryFallis) or send me an [email protected]

The voiceover that opens each episode of the podcast belongs to my good friend, Roger Dey.

I love independent bookstores!

June 9th, 2017

I’ve had so much support from independent bookstores since beginning this writing odyssey more than a decade ago. And it continues. It seems One Brother Shy is being well-received by customers and staff of independent booksellers. I’m deeply in their debt and cannot thank them enough.

Independent Bestsellers List (June 4)

One Brother Shy on CBC Books Bestseller List

June 7th, 2017

CBC Books just released their Canadian Fiction Bestseller List for the week of May 28-June 3. One Brother Shy sits nicely at #3. I couldn’t be happier. Thanks to everyone who rushed out and picked up a copy as soon as it was released.

CBC Books Bestseller List 170607 (smaller)

One Brother Shy hits the Bestsellers List

June 7th, 2017

I was thrilled to wake up this morning to discover that One Brother Shy has hit the Paperback Bestsellers list. I’m honoured to have Margaret Atwood ahead of me. That feels like a big win to me. It’s also very cool to see just how many Canadian writers are on the list. Two-thirds of the two 15, including the top five, are Canadian.

Bookmanager June 5 Bestsellers list

My deep thanks to all those who made this happen by picking up a copy of the new novel. I’m grateful. May it continue!