B.C. writer Brett Josef Grubisic offers a fictional take on murderer Robert Frisbee in his novel “My Two-Faced Luck”

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In 1987, Robert Frisbee was convicted of first-degree homicide within the loss of life of Muriel Barnett, his employer. He had been charged with bludgeoning Barnett to loss of life with a whiskey bottle, allegedly as a result of she meant to cut back the dimensions of his bequest in her will. Frisbee had additionally been within the make use of of Barnett’s late husband, with whom he had a gay affair. (Frisbee’s conviction was downgraded in 1989 to second-degree homicide.)

The case was the topic of “Fatal Cruise: The Trial of Robert Frisbee,” a 1991 nonfiction quantity by William Deverell, a famous true-crime creator and lawyer who served as Frisbee’s defence legal professional at trial. Deverell’s guide is cited as inspiration in an afterword to B.C. author Brett Josef Grubisic’s new novel, a couple of gay man in jail for bludgeoning his aged employer. (In Grubisic’s recounting, the supposed weapon is a gin bottle.) Nearing the tip of his life, the novel’s nameless protagonist dictates his story onto a series of cassette tapes that he leaves for a jail nurse, who transcribes the recordings and fashions them right into a form of advert hoc memoir of the person’s erotic historical past.

Grubisic (who usually critiques for The Star) is cautious to specify that “My Two-Faced Luck” is a piece of fiction, although the info of the novel map pretty intently to the info of Frisbee’s life. However Grubisic provides a rigorously thought of narrative scaffolding: Seerat Gill, an infirmary assistant on the Horsetail Establishment, a minimal safety males’s facility in B.C., collates the tapes following a breakup of her personal and posts them to the editor of a fictional Toronto publishing home within the hopes they may turn out to be a guide. Her cowl letter to the press’s writer opens the novel and gives each the provenance of the tapes and a framing mechanism for Grubisic’s novel.

The narrator’s story unfurls on reflection; Gill’s letter, dated April 2020, makes it clear that the topic of the tapes has been lifeless for 29 years. The majority of the novel, then, represents the transcripts of an inmate trying again from the attitude of his incarceration and attempting to impose some that means on his life. That is additional sophisticated by the truth that the majority of the tapes are unlabelled, leaving Gill to guess on the order through which the entries ought to fall. The novel’s fragments ceaselessly leap round in time or loop again on themselves, lending the narrative a form of Möbius-strip side.

“My Two-Faced Luck” is a voice novel, which is concurrently its biggest energy and its most rapid weak point. Going through the boredom and ache of his remaining days, the nameless inmate fires up his tape recorder and talks. And talks and talks and talks. Gill’s letter asserts that the narrator was known as variously a “chatterbox” and a “motormouth,” and a reader will discover it arduous to disagree with these assessments. He talks at size about his abusive father, his long-suffering mom, his brother — with whom he had his first gay expertise as a baby — his {wife} and their lifeless son (he briefly tried for a home life as a straight man earlier than admitting his homosexuality), and numerous lovers.

The narration is circuitous and repetitive, which is arguably true to the best way an individual would narrate the story of a life — “Am I repeating myself? I get lost in these bygones” he says at one level — however on the web page it makes for a sure problem, as does the narrator’s penchant for clichés. Not like the younger man of John Rechy’s beat basic “City of Night,” one other novel concerning the city erotic adventures of an nameless gay, Grubisic eschews linguistic freshness and floor pyrotechnics for a form of mimetic narrative flatness; when the narrator says, late within the novel, “I’m not fascinating, that’s been made clear to me,” the irony is just intermittently obvious.

Steven W. Beattie is a author in Stratford, Ont.

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