Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Toronto Star Reviews One Brother Shy

Monday, July 24th, 2017

Note: Several plot spoilers in this review 

TorStar logo

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.

Global Television appearance

Wednesday, 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

Friday, 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!

NB Bestsellers List (June 23).PNG

One Brother Shy on The Morning Show

Tuesday, 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.)

Winnipeg Free Press Review

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

The first few weeks after a new novel drops, it’s always a rather anxious time as you await reviews from readers and critics alike. The response to One Brother Shy from readers, as reflected in the reviews on Goodreads, has been generally quite positive. But you also worry about what the critics will say.

The Winnipeg Free Press is first off the mark with their review. I’m breathing easier now.

Winnipeg Free Press Review

Globe and Mail reviews Poles Apart

Saturday, December 19th, 2015

Globe review 151219

When the Globe and Mail review of your novel is longer than expected, it’s even harder to read the entire piece while holding your breath. I was very happy after I exhaled.

To save you from squinting to read the review in the image above, here’s what went down in the paper:

Check your privilege

A freelance writer becomes a feminist icon in Terry Fallis’s new novel

Terry Fallis writes just about the tidiest romantic comedic novels you can find on Earth, let alone in Canada. His latest, Poles Apart, revolves around a youngish feminist who is also a straight white man, which is no easy task.

Everett Kane’s life is suddenly weighed down by familial responsibility when his father suffers a stroke. At the request of his business-mogul mother, Everett, a freelance writer in his late 30s, is sent to stay with his dad in Orlando to oversee his convalescence. He is delighted to discover Beverley Tanner, one of his feminist heroes, is a patient at the same facility as his father. Inspired by this to rediscover his undergraduate zeal for the equality of the sexes, abetted by the good fortune of free time as his father recovers, Everett launches an anonymous blog that goes viral overnight.

At the same time, construction of a new nightclub is under way just below Everett’s new apartment. In a typical Fallis comedic set-up, the nightclub just so happens to be an exclusive gentleman’s club called XY. Not only that, but the club’s Lothario owner, Mason Bennington, is the subject of the very blog post that launches Everett into the blogosphere’s regency.

(Everett’s blogging talent is linked to the placement of his feet over the bolt of a certain pole that happens to have its upper-most end in the floor of his apartment; Everett never quite links the power of the strip-pole to his ability to generate blog posts, but we are left to conclude that somehow the physical connection to the dancers below ties him more closely to his subject matter.)

A couple of contradictory elements are teased into the plot clearly enough to keep leisurely readers engaged early on. Everett’s father, Billy Kane, a lowbrow man’s man of an era that predates Don Draper, is grappling with his post-stroke recovery alongside a fictional co-founder of Ms. magazine, lobbing knuckle-dragger come-ons and receiving witty barbs in return. Everett befriends a dancer employed at the downstairs club, and his second-wave notions about female empowerment are overturned in a hurry. And, when Everett meets the counsel charged with Mason Bennington’s case, his interest is piqued and a love story begins to blossom.

Fallis excels at making his readers love his characters, even those with truly unlovable traits. Much as in No Relation, an unlikely group of characters is brought together by happenstance featuring an everyman protagonist, ready and eager to write but somehow blocked at the beginning of the book. The reading here is easy, and all of the good-guy characters have depth, but, at the same time, they are given enough space and plenty of foils for their traits, be they virtue or flaw. Men writing on feminism, let alone a man writing about a man writing about feminism, could be very loaded territory, and Fallis goes so far as to create fictional feminist canon texts from which his hero draws inspiration. However, the hero transparently has blind spots, and remains astute and imperfect. Interestingly, Everett’s political hero Beverley Tanner is famed for her memoir The Funny One: Reflections of a Feminist with a Sense of Humour; having this text as the basis for a protagonist to draw from in a humorous novel is not so much a trope as a possible detail of a past that very well could have been.

In a novel that takes a lighthearted knock at the foibles of the earnest, most privileged class, one conceit smacks a bit odd: Fallis points out race when it isn’t white, signalling that white is the default audience, the assumed character base. While the book does a sound job showing how the most sincere, educated male feminist can still have blind spots, there may still be another blind spot in the text itself.

A beautiful function of fiction is to not just show the world as it is, which this book does indeed – all references to contemporary media are spot-on, and characters engage with the world in a very natural way – but how it can be. Everett’s transition from troubled sideline feminist to an active, productive voice in the conversation shows an evolution that is entirely within the realm of the possible. He remains humble, maintains his sense of humour and gets over himself in an entirely useful way. Everett and his father, Billy, heal together, and the reading stays sharp and light enough while giving the real issues fair play.

Imagine a crew of unassuming readers with invisible sexist tropes lodged somewhere within the recesses of their minds, chuckling along and finding themselves somehow subtly transformed while consuming this pleasurable novel – that scenario would be a literary conclusion to outlive the book itself.

Lauren Bride is a Toronto writer.

With a slightly different headline, you can click here to read the review online.

Poles Apart Bestsellers List Roundup

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

In the first few weeks of its life, it’s been very gratifying to see Poles Apart grace a number of bestsellers lists in various positions. I just wanted to note them here for posterity’s sake, as this blog is a kind of digital scrapbook of my writing life. Here’s hoping Poles Apart hangs on for a few more weeks before it inevitably slips off these ever-changing bestsellers lists. I’m grateful to the many readers who have bought the book and helped propel it into these rankings.

Bookmanager Bestsellers 151101

MyStore Bestsellers list 151031

Globe bestsellers 151031

TorStar Bestseller list 151031

My talk to the Ontario Writers’ Conference

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Earlier this year, I was invited to give the closing address at the Ontario Writers’ Conference. It was not one of the standard talks I often give about one or another of my books or my strange journey to the published land. So I was a little nervous about it. Anyway, for what it’s worth, you can watch it here if you’re interested or suffer with insomnia…

Hanging in on the bestsellers list

Monday, July 28th, 2014

No Relation has now been on the market for ten weeks. So you can imagine how thrilled I am that for the tenth straight week, it’s still hanging in there on the Globe and Mail Bestsellers list. Honoured, humbled, and grateful.

G&M Bestseller list July 26, 2014

A No Relation Book Trailer

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Book trailers are all the rage these days in the publishing world. My great publisher, Random House/McClelland & Stewart has just produced this book trailer for No Relation.  I think it captures the spirit and tone of the novel very well.