Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hilarious tale of caddish children's author

  • Print

Have you ever wondered about the people who write children's books? Surely they must be kind, gentle and trustworthy souls, and certainly not narcissistic, substance-abusing and philandering cads.

If you hold the former opinion, you've yet to be introduced to the 38-year-old title character in Torontonian Scott Carter's second novel.

Carter's absorbing followup to his 2010 debut, Blind Luck, is the hilarious and suspenseful story of Barrett Fuller, whose bestselling "Mil Bennett" series he has written under a pseudonym, for obvious reasons.

If anyone were to learn of his actual nature ("immature, irresponsible and inane"), his true proclivities would end his popularity, not to mention deplete his wealth.

Barrett values his money above all else, and being blackmailed would be his nightmare.

Then the nightmare comes true. Anonymous children begin delivering extortion letters to his walled mansion gates, threatening to destroy both his career and his fortune should he fail to comply with their demands, termed "opportunities."

They require him to atone for his wantonness and gluttony by donating to children's organizations or selling of some of his properties, for instance.

Carter depicts Barrett's Mils Bennett series, by the way, as being as popular as the Harry Potter books (although Carter never mentions Potter by name).

Barrett's series consists of modern fables of sorts. Each story offers a moral, and he's being blackmailed because of the contradiction between his books and the way he lives.

The kids are just the delivery people, an important point, because all the letters threaten to expose his caddishness, of which the kids are unaware. The kids are paid to do it by someone who knows Barrett personally.

Carter endows his story with depth in the characters of Barrett's younger sister, Carol, a graphic designer whose financial situation is a tad different from her brother's, and her 11-year-old son, Richard.

Richard's father is a minor character, who, thorough a rollicking set of circumstances, has been ejected from the family. Naturally, Barrett has neither stayed in contact with Carol, nor given her any financial support throughout the years.

Over the course of Carter's surprisingly exciting and evocative tale, relationships among Carol, Richard and Barrett acquire meaning, though, initially, not through Barrett's free will.

Unsurprisingly, Richard is one of the millions of Mil Bennett fans. Not revealing his true nature is one way that Barrett maintains his distance from everyone, except for those who provide him with money or pleasure.

Carter again does a wonderful job of creating a well-imagined character in Richard. The relationship between the sensitive, thoughtful boy and his reluctant uncle reveals aspects of Barrett's character long ago suppressed or denied.

The question is whether the companionable relationship between Barrett and Richard will be enough to change the man.

Barrett Fuller's secret may be that he actually is the decent, responsible and reliable sort of children's novelist, or it may be that his mansion walls simply are what they appear to be, and not a way to keep meaning, trust and hurt at bay.

 

Elizabeth Hopkins is a Winnipeg writer and, unfortunately, not an evil, famous and rich one.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 21, 2013 A1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart - The Floodway Connection

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 060710 The full moon rises above the prairie south of Winnipeg Monday evening.
  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Will you miss Grandma Elm?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google