All posts by Ron Thompson

Hello from Harvard Yard

APOL - Harvard 2

This week APOL breezed into the Boston area where it was spotted in Cambridge on a ramble around the storied Harvard campus, in the course of which it visited the offices of the Harvard Review, the Harvard Crimson, and the Harvard Lampoon, shilling for an interview or perhaps a review.  Later, it was posing for a publicity still in the Yard with the statue of John Harvard when a group of prospective freshmen came by on a tour. Their guide informed them that students traditionally rub the toe of John Harvard’s left foot for luck.

This has put quite a sheen on the shoe, yet the “tradition” is a hoax of recent origin. APOL knows a lot about hoaxes (in fact it is a recognized source on the subject), and overhearing this codswallop, could not resist setting the record straight. “If you want good luck,” it told the impressionable youths, “forget the founder’s foot. Way better to kiss my cover instead.” Always a charmer, APOL made itself available to those of all genders (it is open-minded to a fault); but the book was definitely on to a value proposition. Harvard undergrad tuition runs US$45,000 a year. A copy of APOL retails for just US$15.99.

At the end of the day, it was back On The Road for the tour. APOL was last seen on US-3 headed north for Lowell to pay homage to hepcat Jack Kerouac

A note to readers: APOL is the anthropomorphic version of my novel A Person of Letters, gone walkabout without its author. (A wink and a tilt of the hat here to magical realism.) Check in here or follow my Facebook Author Page for future reports on APOL’s quixotic and unpredictable world tour.


APOL visits Dubai’s Burj Khalifa

AOPL, Dubai - Birj

The Person of Letters book tour has touched down in Dubai. APOL was sighted this week mugging at the foot of the Burj Khalifa, at 828 metres the world’s tallest building. The book later visited the tower’s Sky Level observation deck, which costs 500 dirhams – approx. US$135 or 4 bbl of oil. Afterwards, it visited the gift shop where it tried to slip onto a bookshelf but was quickly removed and shown the exit.

Perhaps this is why APOL was not enthralled with Dubai, its many luxury outlets and malls, its varied consumer culture. The emirate’s burning mid-day heat may also have been a factor. “What is it, 451 Fahrenheit here?” it demanded at one point. It was looking for a bookstore at the time. APOL looked rumpled and somewhat bent, definitely not in a satiric mood. “Geez,” it asked one of its handlers, “where can you get a drink in this burj?”

APOL has gained a reputation as a Bad Boy of Books on its present tour, not a good thing in a country where Orwell’s iconic Animal Farm has been banned for several years. Apparently, anthropomorphic pigs don’t fly in the Emirates.

A note to readers: APOL is the anthropomorphic version of my novel A Person of Letters, gone walkabout without its author. (A wink and a tilt of the hat here to magical realism.)

APOL Arrives in Nation’s Capital

APOL Ottawa 3

The Person of Letters book tour has landed in Ottawa, where APOL was recently spotted by an observant political staffer on Parliament Hill. From there the book was trailed to trendy Byward Market where it entered le Moulin de Provence but left without being served, muttering “Thanks, Obama!” at the long line of tourists ordering shortbread. However, there was no lineup for beavertail at the other end of the market and, no longer peckish, the book’s spirits picked up noticeably, especially after a short visit to the Aulde Dubliner.

Parliament’s Centre Block (pictured with APOL) was rebuilt after a fire in 1916 that some alleged was set by Americans in retaliation for the burning of Washington in 1814. Canada did not retaliate until 2015, when its sleeper agent Ted Cruz announced his bid for the U.S. presidency. It is hoped that this hundred year cycle of scorched earth warfare can soon be stopped.

A note to readers: APOL is the anthropomorphic version of my novel A Person of Letters, gone walkabout without its author. (A wink and a tilt of the hat here to magical realism.) Let your confreres know about APOL’s travels and follow its meandering book tour on my Facebook Author Page.

Book Tour Update

APOL in Kuala Lumpar 2

The Person of Letters book tour continues.

The travelling tome is apparently now touring Malaysia. Anonymous literati snapped this photo at the foot of Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Twin Towers. APOL was reported to be enjoying itself but flat out refused to pose for a selfie with the photographer, insisting it was late for an event hosted by its Asian publisher. Later that evening it was spotted enjoying street satay at a mamak stall and tripping the light fantastic along Changkat Bukit Bintang, which is known for its night life.

Readers well know that APOL is fascinated by tall buildings, which probably explains why it was taking in the famous Petronas Towers. From 1998 until 2004 they were the tallest buildings in the world, and they are still the tallest twin tower complex anywhere. In 1999, daredevil Felix Baumgartner set a world base jump record by leaping from their peak, a feat he far surpassed in 2012 by jumping from, well, space.

There have been contradictory reports about A Person of Letters next destination.

A note to readers: APOL is the anthropomorphic version of my novel A Person of Letters, gone walkabout without its author. (A wink and a tilt of the hat here to magical realism.) Follow APOL‘s quixotic tour here or on my Facebook Author Page.

Announcing the Person of Letters Book Tour

A Person of Letters has launched its own book tour – inexplicably, without its author. I’ve recently received reports of sightings and photos of the book in various salubrious locations around the world. In this picture, for example, APOL is seen lounging poolside in California, happily unrecognized by the paparazzi pack. Reports indicate APOL is enjoying the tour, meeting interesting people, seeing the sights, and hamming it up shamelessly. (I’m not bitter at all. Really.)

Over the coming days I’ll post additional photos of its travels and adventures. If you spot APOL somewhere, please let me know and send me a shot. I will post those I receive here and on my Facebook Author Page.APOL poolside.

David Bowie and the Nat Tate Hoax

Bowie + Nat TateAs David Bowie’s fans mourn and remember, here’s the little-known story of his connection with Nat Tate, the greatest artist who never lived:

No surprise that Bowie embraced a project in which “something entirely fictitious could experience a life in the world as something wholly credible, real, and true.” Bowie forever toyed with and brilliantly challenged the notions of fame and persona and the nature of art and yes, of existence itself.

The trope of fabricated artist, manufactured fame, has a long and colourful history in literature, dating back to Swift and Pope et al with their creation of Martin Scribler; and it continues (ahem) to the present day.

Photo: Azzara Steve/Corbis

Now Showing at Ben McNally’s

Ben McNally's Books - interiorI’m pleased to report that my novel, A Person of Letters, is now available at Ben McNally Books on Bay Street in Toronto. This is a homecoming of sorts for Person’s narrator, a designer of financial derivatives who once worked on Bay Street. Appropriately, his homecoming coincides with the opening today of The Big Short, an excellent movie adapted from an excellent book about the near collapse of the global economy – primarily because of gonzo financial innovations like the derivatives Person used to think up.

Ben McNally Books is Toronto’s literary hotspot, a booklover’s delight, a bastion of books amid the downtown towers. Go in and browse – you’ll enjoy the experience. (I certainly enjoy seeing APOL on its shelves!)

Many readers of APOL have provided generous feedback on the book (thank you!) and asked how they can help raise its profile. My reply is – tell a friend. That’s the single best thing you can do. There are more things too, if you’re so inclined. Post a review on Amazon, Goodreads, your blog, or elsewhere. Ask for it at your local library. Ask for it at your favourite bookstore. Suggest it to your book club. Follow my Facebook Author Page. Share links. All of these actions, all of your word of mouth efforts, are greatly appreciated!

Merry Christmas to all, and thank you for your support in 2015. All the best in the New Year!