21 November 2016

Kenneth Orvis: A Plea

Do you know this man?

I've been slowly making my way through the complete works of Kenneth Orvis (a/k/a Kenneth Lemieux). Eight books in total – perhaps nine? – it hasn't
been at all taxing. My favourite thus far is The Damned and the Destroyed, a 1962 novel dealing with drug dealing in 'fifties. I admit that my preference has everything to do with the fact that it is set in Montreal, the author's hometown and mine.

I'm certain I never heard a word about Kenneth Orvis growing up – then again, I never heard anything about John Glassco, whose biography I would write and whose letters I would edit. Two very different men, though they did share a penchant for drink; Over and Under the Table, Orvis's 1985 memoir, is subtitled The Anatomy of an Alcoholic.

The challenge in writing about Glassco was that he loved to fabricate; the man fancied himself "an accomplished liar" and "great practitioner of deceit." Things were made easier by the paper trail he left in his wake. And then there were his friends... many of whom became my friends.

I thank him for that.

Glassco died in 1981, more than four years before Orvis's Over and Under the Table saw publication. According to the author's bio on the back cover, the author had recently relocated to Montreal and was at work on a new novel.

As I say, Glassco had friends. Did Orvis?

Of course, he did.

And so, this plea – directed at friends, family, acquaintances and colleagues – for information about the man. This for a future article about Orvis and his work.

My email address: brianjohnbusby[at]gmail.com... or you can just leave a comment.

All leads appreciated. No stones unturned.

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