Excerpt: Brin Friesen's Sic. and The Domino Diaries

The Excerpt Reader met Brin Friesen par hasard, as the French say.. 

A chance encounter in Facebook set me mail-to-mail with this young and audacious writer.

Friesen (self proclaimed 'a lumbering soul but trying to fly..' & 'The greatest looking author since Byron,') is the first ever and, to date, perhaps the only writer able to boast the seemingly-dubious title 'Author/Boxing Coach'( Self employed, that is).

But on a more 'serious' note..

Friesen (b.1979) grew up in Vancouver and later lived in Madrid and Havana. He debuted in 2006 with a novel named Sic. (from the Latin. Meaning "thus," "so," "as such," or "in such a manner..." The book was published by and/or Press, an anonymous publishing house which has published, to date, Friesen's novel and the novel of one D.R. Haney, Banned for Life, relating the story of Jim Cassady, the quasi-legendary punk-rock frontman who disappeared without a trace shortly after his girlfriend’s apparent suicide. 

Sic tells the story of a young boy, Jasper Finch, and his vicious junior high school years. The book was optioned for film the year it was published. It also won Friesen the Eric Hoffer Award 2009 for "Legacy Fiction," and was shortlisted for the Grand Award Prize. 

To get the average reader better acquainted with Friesen's world and work, the Excerpt Reader has held a brief interview with him. Here it is:


* Who is Brin Friesen?

I flunked out of high school and decided to hustle speed chess and teach people how to box while working on my first novel. I traveled around a lot. I lived in New York, Spain, and Havana off and on since 2000. In Havana I trained under Olympic boxing coaching and hatched an idea about a book on the role of boxing in Cuba and how the boxer's struggle has always been a metaphor in that society for the Cuban struggle. Still working on it.

* Why do you write?

Literature is my favorite company. I get lonely pretty easy. I like trying to get even with places and people that have my number. I always felt a little double-parked where I was born, so I had to try and shipwreck into strange places and people to see if I could do any better and feel at home.

* How would you best describe your books?

I'd describe my fiction as my best attempt to make sense of things that never made any sense to me in real life. My first book was about the best and worst day of my life happening on the *same* day: first kiss, first beating. The Cuba stuff is just an extension of the most fascinating place and people I've ever met and a lot of the work of George Orwell holding a candle in the dark about how to organize what I set it down.

* Who is your ideal reader?

My ideal reader is someone who brings all their prejudices and personal biases to my work intact as much as possible. Salinger was onto something when he dedicated one of his books to amateur readers. Individuals are the only people I've ever cared for or been interested in. The less they've been fucked around with, the better.

* Who is your ideal writer?

My ideal writers are probably the ones I dismissed at one stage only to find them waiting for me with a smirk when I came around. To me that's where the real loot is with literature: you have to come to it when you're ready. It's always waiting for you. By and large they go even further, too. Every time you return to their books they've changed along with you. If you've grown and brought more to it, it can offer a little more as well. I'm very greedy for anything in the world that the more time you spend with it the less you understand.

* How much of your fiction is autobiographic?

Plenty of my fiction is autobiographical. I think it's mainly a case of those moments that really shape you or disintegrate your reality - most of which you can't accept or really deal and maintain your identity - that necessitates exploring them in a fictional or fantasy realm. I fall victim to this all the time in fiction. Mainly I write about kids at an age where what scars them scars them for life and what compasses they find support them for life also. Both become a kind of fetish in a way, like the tune fairy tale girls hum or whistle when they find themselves alone in the darkness of a forest. I'm not convinced people walk away from much. We just look for new things to cope.


Friesen's provided the Reader's followers with an excerpt from his debut novel, Sic. 

The opening of the book reminds one of 'youth culture' movies (well, filmed from a more 'elderly' point of view) such as Gus Van Sant's Elephant and his Paranoid Park. The life therein described is a 'normal', day-to-day life. But you know there's catastrophe around the corner, lurking..

At the moment, Friesen's preoccupied with a new book, "The Domino Diaries", that's intended to be published soon, and which will also be released as a documentary film called "Hero, Traitor, Madness" (Friesen's filmed most of the interviews for the book and he intends to use them for this documentary.)

The book is an essay of sorts about Cuba, written through Friesen's highly individual and exceptional prism of Boxing, though it could well be read as a diary as well, or as a carnet de voyage, as the French like to call them.
You can get acquainted with some chapters from the book here.

VERDICT: BUY IT (because Boxing isn't only for dummies. & Brin Friesen is a living example of it.)

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