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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26
HOME / STORY

We’ll Miss You, Wes

Craig Silliphant
Published Thursday October 15, 06:04 pm
A beloved local author and influence passes far too soon

 Last week I woke up to the news that my friend, Saskatchewan writer Wes Funk, had passed away. Even though we used to joke about getting older, Wes was way too young to leave this mortal coil.

Years ago, I read his book Dead Rock Stars, and I saw something wonderfully different from what the old guard considered “proper Saskatchewan fiction.” DRS was fiction, but it was also about how Wes grew up gay in a small town, and how he had to wrestle with what comes along with that. Wes loved rock ‘n’ roll, and this permeated the book. Wes’ stories were not laden with forced grain-elevator imagery: He wrote about the Saskatchewan he knew, which felt like the Saskatchewan so many of us know. (And in fact, he recently released an illustrated edition after meeting his friend, illustrator Kevin Hastings.)

Wes and I became good friends when I called him to come on my radio show on CKOM to talk about his writing. When I met him at the reception desk, I was holding my Clash London Calling coffee mug. He laughed that Wes laugh and held up his London Calling record bag. I told him I would steal it from him one day. We talked about music a lot, and had a running joke where I tried to get him to admit how horrible Nickelback is.

Wes was wonderfully supportive. I’m sure many stories will surface as we remember Wes, but I can tell you mine. I would have never written my book about the Saskatoon music scene had it not been for him. He had me on his Shaw Cable show, Lit Happens, to talk writing, and he put me on the spot about the project — so I had no choice but to follow through.

He put me on the spot again and had me read some of the unfinished work at the launch of his own book, Cherry Blossoms, sharing the spotlight. And he had me on Lit Happens again when the book came out. Wes was tireless in his efforts to be a good friend and to give advice on things like how to self-publish and market one’s work.

It goes without saying that Wes was a shameless self-promoter, which is what a self-publishing author needs to be. He was always appearing here or there, selling his books at festivals and McNally events. He also put on many workshops. I once had to chuckle and raise an eyebrow when he told me he was teaching a seminar on erotic fiction. Only Wes.

But wasn’t that the thing about Wes? He wasn’t afraid to put it out there. He had spent many years fearing who he was, until his writing pushed him into a place of not only public respect, but also self-respect. He was no longer afraid to embrace his inner nerd, whether it be through music, superheroes, or wearing a Star Trek shirt. Wes was a beautiful soul, not afraid to be himself, no matter how silly. He was a better person than me; people could learn a lot from him about being themselves.

I have to end these bittersweet thoughts with a quote from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Yup, I’m indulging myself, but I also know that Wes would have loved any identification with Star Trek. During Spock’s funeral in the film, James T. Kirk speaks about his beloved friend. Choking back tears, he says, “Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels… his was the most… human.”

That was you Wes: The most human of us all. We will miss you so much. Safe travels my friend, and may the prairie wind be at your back.

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