Douglas Arthur Brown
(Key Porter Books)
Quintet could refer to five separate strands of story: identical triplets (Rory, Cameron and Adrian) coping with the sudden death of their parents in a train wreck; the lasting effects of growing up in Cape Breton; a Halifax carpenter (and choir singer) struggling with 30 years of addiction and caring for a daughter born blind; a Toronto artist obsessed with the colour red questioning his life’s work as his wife battles cancer; a gay chef in Copenhagen watching his husband slowly dying of AIDS.
The three brothers share the stories of their lives in a journal they mail to each other. This way, Douglas Arthur Brown, who appears at the upcoming Halifax International Writers Festival, creates three distinct, fully formed characters. But there’s a reason the Cape Breton author called his novel Quintet---the triplets make the story’s melody, but their older brother Talbot provides the bass to drive the story forward.
Born 10 years before them, Talbot is omitted from the writing in the journal. He’s always been the odd man out, and the triplets think he’s a bully and “doesn’t count.” But his presence and the family secrets he carries with him complete this quintet and give it depth like the Sydney mines.