news | Friday March 27, 2020
Deni Ellis Béchard is the author of Vandal Love (Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book); Of Bonobos and Men (Grand Prize winner of the Nautilus Book Award for investigative journalism); and Into the Sun (Midwest Book Award for literary fiction, selected by CBC Radio Canada as one of 2017’s Incontournables and one of the most important books of the year to be read by Canada’s political leaders).
His new non-fiction collection, My Favourite Crime, ranges across the world and over a wide array of contemporary issues. Divided into five sections, all united by a recurring consideration of how writing helps transform our understanding of our family, of ourselves, and of the world, the book addresses a range of disparate topics, including the author’s tumultuous relationship with his father, and the temptation to lapse back into crime when one has been raised with it.
Today, we are sharing the collection’s titular essay, “My Favourite Crime.”
My Favourite Crime
There’s a story my father often told me. I imagine most boys hear stories from their fathers, but not this sort. It was about a bank heist in 1967, the burglary of half a million dollars in West Hollywood. He called it the Big Job, an elaborate crime he’d started plotting when he was first incarcerated. Prison, he liked to say, turned him into a professional. He went in a petty crook and left wanting to do the Big Job, not unlike the way I went to college to study writing and left dreaming of the great American novel.