New book offers imagined perspective of Greyhound bus killer
Ben Miljure, CTV Winnipeg
Published Sunday, March 22, 2015 6:01PM CST
In the years since Vince Li beheaded Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus near Portage La Prairie, the debate surrounding mental health and the justice system has raged in Manitoba.
Now an Ivy League professor in New York has weighed in on the issue.
Joseph Fasano, who teaches creative writing at Columbia University, has written a long-form poem about the events of July 30, 2008.
Li was found not criminally responsible for the crime and has been residing in a mental health hospital in Selkirk ever since.
"It's a haunting event. It's terrifying, it's haunting in the way that everybody has found it,” said Fasano.“And it just makes your heart go out to the family of the victim."
In addition to the fact it is written as a poem, the book is also unique because the author wrote it from the imagined first-person perspective of Vince Li.
"I was very compelled by the voice, by exploring the possibilities,” said Fasano. “What's going on in this character's mind?"
Chris Summerville, CEO of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada, hasn’t read the poem but says he would like to, especially if it will address some of the stigmas around mental illness.
"If this particular book aids in that conversation then I think it will be much welcomed by the mental health community,” said Summerville.
Summerville does wonder how the book will be received by members of Tim McLean’s family, concerns that were echoed on the streets of Winnipeg.
"I don't think that the author meant to be mean-spirited or malicious but the impact something like that might have on his family is going to probably be a negative one,” said Natalie Roach as she strolled through Osborne Village.
Fasano says the book presents an immense emotional challenge for readers.
"We can feel compassion and revulsion at the same time,” he said. “And I think that's just a human way of looking at a situation that obviously has destroyed so many lives."
A review board recently recommended Li be granted more freedoms, re-igniting the conversation on mental health and the justice system.
"Mental illness affects everybody, today,” said Najia Malik when told about the book. “And it just goes to show with this person on the Greyhound how it affects not only the people that are suffering from it, but the general public."
The book, titled Vincent, is being published by Cider Press Review and will be available June 1.