The Next Chapter

Barry Kennedy's novel All That Monk Business is a look at Vancouver's gritty underside

All That Monk Business features a man whose wife has left him — but his past has returned to haunt him.
Barry Kennedy is a Winnipeg ex-CAF fighter pilot, actor, standup comic and writer. (Jet Belgraver, Keith McKellar/Now Or Never Publishing)

Barry Kennedy began his working life as a fighter pilot and later switched careers to become a comedian, writer and actor.

His new novel, All That Monk Business, is set in Vancouver. It features a man whose wife has left him — but his past has returned to haunt him.

Kennedy spoke with The Next Chapter about writing All That Monk Business.

Commercial Drive

"All That Monk Business is based in Vancouver's Commercial Drive neighbourhood. The protagonist is Buddy Monk. He is a barber. He lives in a second floor apartment above his own barbershop. He's a key figure in Commercial Drive. He's not a dangerous man, but he's constantly threatening. He makes stuff up. He invents things for his own benefit. 

He's not a dangerous man, but he's constantly threatening.

"He's also, at the same time, a bit of a hero for Commercial Drive. He's a fixture and is equally revered and hated."

A large transformation

"A huge change in Buddy's life comes around when a man from Vancouver Island comes over with some information on Buddy's dead father — information that no one was privy to.

"This man connects with Buddy and his mother, and it spins the world around for both of them. The entanglement is heartbreaking, but very humorous. Buddy is one of these fellows that gradually and begrudgingly learned some smarts. By the end, when a large transformation is necessary because of the circumstances, he becomes a whole person. He realizes that he can't do all this stuff alone. 

This man connects with Buddy and his mother and it spins the world around for both of them.

"The whole community helps him along the way. He's not alone. He doesn't have to go through life the way he has, which is essentially putting his head down and charging at every difficulty, trying to solve it through brute force or repetition."

Barry Kennedy's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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