This week, APOL was in Saskatoon to deliver a reading at the Bessborough, the city’s grand hotel and “castle on the river.” Before being tossed out by an alert concierge, it was able to get through most of the chapter covering its fictional narrator’s student days, which were spent in an unnamed western city referred to as the “Paris of the Prairies.”
Saskatoon was founded in 1882 as a temperance colony but, well . . . that didn’t work out. The city’s early history is said to have inspired APOL’s author, who drew upon it in his recently completed contemporary novel, Poplar Lake. But you wouldn’t hear that from APOL, which was in the Hub City to sell itself, not the younger sibling it is said to resent passionately.
APOL’s author was known to frequent certain licensed establishments in downtown Saskatoon during his own student days, including the bar at “the Bess.” Thankfully, in those antediluvian times, cameras were not as ubiquitous as they have become in this millennium. There are thus few records of his youthful debauchery extant, and none of the accounts of those days are dependable. Most are told by Thompson himself, and he is a notoriously unreliable narrator.
Note: “APOL” is the anthropomorphic version of my satirical novel A Person of Letters, which has gone on tour without me (with a wink and a nod to magical realism). Follow APOL’s quixotic world tour here or on my Facebook Author Page, and read about all of APOL’s (mis)adventures in sequence on this tour archive. For information about the book, go to Martin Scribler Media.