Are We All Closet Fringe Dwellers?

As I go about the land reading and promoting my book Fringe Dwellers, I am beginning to wonder if I have tapped into a hidden secret of Canadians. My book was written about the marginalized people in society – widows, divorcees, immigrants, unemployed executives, beggars, bums, sick, dying and the even the dead. I thought that these people had interesting stories to tell. And I thought these people were in the minority.

However, as I deliver the stories about these characters, I find typical middle•class, apparently comfortably off people in the audience, raise their hands and share how they too are fringe dwellers, how they have suffered marginalization despite the veneer of respectable “normality” they cloak themselves in. So, the fourth•generation United Empire Loyalist descendant was marginalized because her parent committed suicide and she was condemned to a similar fate; the bright young man goes seeking his grandfather who is a bum, criminal and drug addict: I hear about the woman who was expelled by her family because she decided to leave the fundamentalist religious organization she was born into; the taxi driver who is addicted to the next hire, even though it is late at night and his passengers are looking increasingly dangerous; the elderly poet who writes graphic poetry derived from letters received from a young woman whom he later reveals is his daughter, and on and on…

I think I may have tapped into the zeitgeist quite accidentally. Headline – “Canada – a nation of Fringe Dwellers.” What is your dark secret, neighbour?

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