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Bernie Shore spent years dealing with the homeess - now the subject of his book of short stories, titled “Skinny Bernard”.
By REBECA KUROPATWA

Growing up in Garden City, Bernie Shore , who is now 54, attended Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate and Camp Massad. He went on to earn his B.A. at the University of Manitoba, including studying creative writing and criminology.
Shore, who was born in Vancouver,  was adopted by Winnipeg’s Shore family. His siblings live in New York – his sister working as a doctor and his brother as a rabbi.

 

 

 

In his first career, Shore worked at various restaurants and hotels for over 15 years. Then, he decided it was time for a change.
“I got tired of hospitality,” said Shore. “There’s more to life than selling food. There had to be some more meaning.”
Ten years ago, Shore applied to become a police officer. “While I was applying for that, I was also on the Downtown Biz, as one of those guys who drives around on a bike and deals with homeless people,” said Shore.
“And, that sort of got me interested. I also came across a lot of street kids in the downtown area. So, I got interested in working with kids and also in the whole issue of the homeless. I ended up getting a job working with juveniles in Corrections and I’ve been doing that ever since.”
Shore has been writing in different media for years and, professionally, wrote training manuals for the hospitality industry.
“Always, in the back of my mind, I’d come up with little poems and things like that,” said Shore. “And then, finally, a couple years ago, I was at the lake and I came up with this idea of writing the book, ‘Skinny Bernard.’
“The whole idea of that is the style of writing that it is – experimental short stories. So, they are very short – 500-word stories – about 85 of them. But, they all tell a greater story...so, it’s like a novel presented in a very unique way.”
In the book, Skinny Bernard is a homeless fictional character who lives in Winnipeg and eventually dies and searches for heaven. “Whether he finds it or not, I can’t say,” said Shore. “You have to read the story.”
The book has a very strong Winnipeg feel to it, including many local landmarks, like the Forks, Broadway, and many more familiar to Winnipeggers – all told through the eyes of the homeless and done with much surreal imagery.
The story is about community and makes you think about what kind of person you are.
Skinny Bernard is “based on all real characters that I came across while I was riding that bike,” said Shore. “Of course, I didn’t use any real names...and, of course, I added to it...and added some wacky points and things – like how there are underground tunnels that exist downtown from the Capone days with possible entrance-ways into heaven...So, there’s others walking around that may be ghosts as well.
“So, like, when you’re driving downtown and you see someone begging for money, on Broadway, let’s say, maybe the guy’s a ghost or something. There’s a lot more going on than what you think, you know.
“The stories in the book are short stories, so every word counts. So, I’m going to try to slap you in the face with everything quickly.
“I just want readers to take notice, and maybe start a conversation about homelessness. I don’t try to get too heavy on anything. It’s really just entertainment.”
For more information or to get a copy of “Skinny Bernard”, visit https://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000082153380/Bernie-Shore-Skinny-Bernard.
Shore is already working on his next book set for a release date in 2020.

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