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Something wicked

Regina writer’s Manson meetings make memoir fodder

Caitlin Brezinski

Charles Manson. The name itself is enough to generate a response. Manson has been associated with evil and madness since 1969, when he was linked to the gruesome murders of five people, including actress Sharon Tate, who was pregnant at the time. The media reported that Manson was a cult leader who performed mind control on his followers and convinced them to commit the murders. In 1971, after a lengthy trial, Manson was sentenced to death, but a 1972 Supreme Court halt on capital punishment led to his sentence being commuted to life in prison. He remains incarcerated today.

If you were somehow given the chance to meet one of the world’s most notorious figures, would you take it? Regina psychiatric nurse Marlin Marynick took that chance. “To have the opportunity to meet someone like that … I just kind of went for it.”

Marynick didn’t start with the intention of writing a book, but his journey culminated in Charles Manson Now. This isn’t a book strictly about Charles Manson and a dissection of the murders that took place, although that’s part of it. Marynick also writes about how he came to meet Charles Manson, as well as his own past experiences, so the book is part memoir. “When you write … you kinda just do it for yourself,” Marynick said. “… I never expected this kind of response.”

When Marynick started talking to Manson, he felt compelled to meet him, having been afraid of him since childhood. However, getting past that fear, “getting past who he was was difficult, ’cause as soon as you speak to him, his voice, it’s undeniable. This is Charles Manson … Fear is a big part of what Charlie’s about.”

Manson is an extremely complex character. “He’s always said, ‘I am whatever you want me to be,’” Marynick said. “He’ll just tell people whatever he thinks they want to hear. So for some people, he’s the most evil person in the world, for some people, he’s a victim, he’s a genius, he’s a philosopher.”

In between the chapters are dialogue from actual phone conversations that Manson and Marynick had prior to meeting. Marynick said the responses to these dialogues have been varied. “… They’ll say, ‘he’s obviously schizophrenic’ … and someone will say, ‘man, is he ever deep, he’s brilliant.’ So I don’t think there is anybody who’s so misinterpreted, so undefined … as him.”

What Marynick was trying to accomplish with this project was to bring readers to the realization that people are more alike than different. Manson, to Marynick, has more in common with someone that he encounters on a daily basis, and Marynick believes it is important to understand that connection between people. “If you could see yourself in Charles Manson, then you could see yourself in anybody and mystically or philosophically or whatever,” he said. “I think that’s a pretty heavy thing.”

Manson is an extremely guarded and paranoid individual, said Marynick, but that revealed surprising elements of his character. “Knowing how hard it is for him to trust anybody was kind of an eye opener … he’s actually vulnerable”

Subsequently, Marynick found himself in something of a “therapist-client” relationship with Manson. “Because I don’t judge anybody, I’m open to whatever they’re sharing with me, [if not], people would feel threatened or they wouldn’t share anything … I try to bring the most out of those people”

Marynick was interested in Manson’s psyche. As a result, he said, “there is a theme of mental illness throughout the book … if there was some way to give mental health a platform then it’s good … or if it’s some way to connect with people then it’s what I want to do.”

Marynick was haunted by the images of Helter Skelter when he was a child, so it’s strange that he now has a complicated but personal relationship with the infamous cult leader. Marynick still can’t believe what’s come out of this, “the imagery…totally freaked me out and all of a sudden, I’m sharing a bag of popcorn with the guy in the visiting room, talking about The Beach Boys,” he said, “Like, how the hell did this happen?”

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