January 23, 2019

Winnipeg
-19° C, A few clouds

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Explorations of grief buoyed by Fallis's trademark humour

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/6/2017 (599 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

In his latest novel, One Brother Shy, Terry Fallis continues his streak of creating characters prone to self-deprecation, unnerving honesty and darkly comical views of the world around them.

Fallis is an award-winning Canadian author of five national bestsellers, so he’s pretty much got the market cornered on developing heartwarming and humourous stories. His debut novel, The Best Laid Plans, won the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour and was crowned the 2011 winner of CBC’s Canada Reads as the “essential Canadian novel of the decade.” In September 2015, The Best Laid Plans debuted as a stage musical in Vancouver. It will be interesting to see if One Brother Shy follows this path.

One Brother Shy is about 24-year-old software engineer Alex MacAskill. Like previous Fallis characters, Alex is a somewhat reluctant protagonist with self-esteem issues. He lives in Ottawa and works for a fictional software company getting ready to launch the next generation of facial-recognition software.

Despite Alex’s prowess building pristine computer code, his people skills are lacking. He is haunted by a traumatic event that happened when he was 15 years old.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Join free for 30 days

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/6/2017 (599 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

In his latest novel, One Brother Shy, Terry Fallis continues his streak of creating characters prone to self-deprecation, unnerving honesty and darkly comical views of the world around them.

Fallis is an award-winning Canadian author of five national bestsellers, so he’s pretty much got the market cornered on developing heartwarming and humourous stories. His debut novel, The Best Laid Plans, won the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour and was crowned the 2011 winner of CBC’s Canada Reads as the "essential Canadian novel of the decade." In September 2015, The Best Laid Plans debuted as a stage musical in Vancouver. It will be interesting to see if One Brother Shy follows this path.

Clarence Johnson / The Associated Press files</p><p>Author Terry Fallis</p>

Clarence Johnson / The Associated Press files

Author Terry Fallis

One Brother Shy is about 24-year-old software engineer Alex MacAskill. Like previous Fallis characters, Alex is a somewhat reluctant protagonist with self-esteem issues. He lives in Ottawa and works for a fictional software company getting ready to launch the next generation of facial-recognition software.

Despite Alex’s prowess building pristine computer code, his people skills are lacking. He is haunted by a traumatic event that happened when he was 15 years old.

One Brother Shy explores a lot of familial emotions, including grief, in ways that are profoundly relatable. As Alex deals with grief for the first time, his therapist states: "Sometimes it’s the need to manage all the logistics that a loved one’s death entails that keeps us functioning until we’re actually able to deal with the reality of their loss."

The crux of One Brother Shy is the search for family and for self, but the story plays out much like a cleverly written Seinfeld episode, including comical but hard-to-believe coincidences — for example, that Alex’s employer’s facial-recognition software helps him find his long-lost brother. Indeed, there are a few plot twists that test the boundaries of plausibility.

Where Fallis shines is drawing from his own experience as a twin to fully capture the amazement of brothers meeting for the first time. "We were studying one another’s faces and seeing our own. We were isolated in our own little private fraternal universe. I realized it was almost certainly love — a familial love — that had arrived at breakneck speed."

The brothers join forces on a fascinating family search, opening up some old wounds in the process; on their journey, some harsh truths are revealed.

But Fallis is never far from injecting his trademark humour should things get too heavy. In one instance, Alex sits near a foul-smelling man on a train. His inner dialogue (consistently introspective and amusing) shares that he was near asphyxia and "the four-hour trip passed uneventfully in what felt like eight hours."

In another instance, Alex describes a location: "It was a short drive to the nondescript, low-rise apartment house — I actually can’t describe how nondescript it was. It must’ve been designed and built during a nationwide architects’ strike." Even in the darkest moments, Fallis pulls his characters off the bitter ledge with biting humour.

Alex’s journey of self-discovery covers a lot of ground, literally and figuratively: Canada, England, Russia — and a look at the importance of hockey to Canadians — end up providing meaning and context at various points.

For anyone interested in searching for family and healing from traumatic events, Fallis mines a wealth of touching and hilarious treasures, in his inimitably giggle-worthy way — so much so that it would be great to catch up with the brothers in a sequel.

Deborah Bowers is a marketing and communications professional who appreciates a good story and a good laugh.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital 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 The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The 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 January 2015.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us