Friday, February 13, 2015
A Eulogy for Russell Quant: Anthony Bidulka’s International Gay Private Eye of Saskatoon
Interview with with Dustan Hlady of Citadel Magazine, where we talk about my feud with Governor General Jeanne Sauvé, Philip Roth, writing process and experimentation, and Russell Quant’s kitchen.
5 / 5 – Perfectly Excellent
Reviewed by: Dustan Hlady
It was a few years ago when Carrie, my wife/life partner asked.
“A novel about a gay private detective from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan that goes to Africa on a case.”
“Almost every word in that sentence was interesting.”
Anothony Bidulka has the market cornered for novels about world travelling private detectives from Saskatoon that happen to be gay. Most likely he has the monopoly.
THE WORLD TRAVELLER
Everywhere private eye Russell Quant has gone Anthony has gone himself. In the eight mysteries that Russell Quant has solved he has gone to many locales including Paris, New York City and Vancouver. Many of the adventures can be read as a thrilling travelogue. Anthony leaves little to your imagination when he sets a scene. He is able to place you in…
that supermarket in Honolulu,
that game reserve in South Africa
or the skyscraper skyline of Dubai.
Anthony describes what he has experienced. Anthony and I talked about his travels and writing the other week.
What you are passionate about influences how you see a place You are always seeing it as a potential place to unleash your creativity on.
Skateboarders often look at an area and think:
“That’s a great place to skate.”
Musicians and show promoters see a space and think:
“It would be fun to do a show there.”
Freerunners see a spot and think:
“This would be a great spot to do my stuff.”
I like to imagine Anthony Bidulka travels the world, thinking:
“That would be a great place to interrogate someone.”
“This would be the perfect spot for an attempted murder!”
“This would be a perfect spot for a successful murder.”
NOT SO IRRELEVANT
When I first began to read Anthony’s work I thought it was irrelevant that the detective Russell Quant is gay. After all, I would never say.
“I’m reading a short story about an asexual or straight detective from London who can deduct a massive amount of inference from the smallest amount of information.”
The more I read of his work the more I realized that Russell’s sexual orientation isn’t only a trait of the character, it also serves as an opportunity to bring up specific issues.
The couples that are gay in the Russell Quant series have marriage as a part of their relational mindset just as much as any couple does. I think that is important. SPOLIER: Russell Quant himself is engaged at one point though he has a wild heart that cannot be tamed.
These books never get up on a soapbox and preach marriage equality. These books do something more important. They have the institution as a part of the story and show what it genuinely means to the characters.
In Flight of Aquavit we are introduced to the online gay dating world gays.r.us. This is a 90’s version of GRINDR. Because of gay shaming we’re shown in this story that homosexual love and sex is a tentative and sometimes dangerous activity. The parking lot love and gay sex that happens in parks is because gay love and sex has been shamed to these places. This is why gay bars and Queer University clubs are really important. Everyone needs a safe place to meet people and to find love.
This book begins with a chapter where Russell Quant drives outside of Saskatoon following a stranger he met up with for a case that SPOILER ALERT: turns out to be an ambush.
The reason for going out of the city is for a case but it is written alluding to the fact that these type of sexual rendezvous happen and often people put themselves in dangerous situations because there is no safer opportunity to find love/sex.
In another of the Russell Quant books a character almost beats someone to death because he things that person is gay. The character does this because he is discovering that he himself is gay. Russell Quant says
“It happens a lot especially with young men who suspect they themselves might be gay. These guys hate the thought of who they are so much that all they want to do is strike out against it, destroy it, beat it to a pulp. It’s either that or, if the self-loathing is strong enough, they hurt or kill themselves.”
That’s what I like about Russell Quant he just gives you the facts. He doesn’t preach but he doesn’t shy away from the effects of homophobia and marginalization over sexual orientation.
SASKATOON CITIZENS OF THE YEAR
photograph by: Gord Waldner, Star Phenonix
In this way Russell Quant reminds me of his creator Anthony Bidulka. He is an openly gay man but he isn’t someone who stands on a soapbox trying to convince every last person in Saskatchewan have a mindset that includes equality for every LGB or T. He puts his effots where they count.
Anthony and his husband Herb McFaull won the award for Saskatoon’s citizen of the year. They won for founding Camp Fyrefly. A place where teenagers across Saskatchewan who are gay or questioning their sexuality can come and meet kindred youth. With suicidal rates being much higher in Saskatchewan among LGBT teens, they save more lives than Russell Quant could ever hope to.
The newest series of Anthony Bidulka’s is the Adam Saint series. Russell Quant private eye has been replaced by an international disaster recovery agent who does top secret work and can handle anything thrown at him. He also is a family life with a wife child. (well they hate him sometimes but he does his best).
Russell Quant is on hiatus but he has not necessarily gone his last adventure. What we do know is that his creator has other creations to attend to. So we lift our glasses to Mr. Quant Private eye, friend, party giver, protector, world traveler extraordinaire. We hope to see you again and if we don’t I’m sure your master will have plenty of new protagonists to keep us company.
See more of Citadel at: http://citadelmagazine.com/book-review/a-eulogy-for-russell-quant-anthony-bidulkas-international-gay-private-eye-of-saskatoon/