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.

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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: http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a695/nat-tate-art-hoax/

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!

Maurice Strong

Maurice-Strong-Quotes-2It is ironic that Maurice Strong should pass away on the eve of COP21, the Paris climate conference. He was among the most influential of environmentalists, the first head of the UNEP, the Secretary-General of the first UN human environment conference in 1972 and of the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. He helped light the candle of environmental awareness and as it guttered over the years, he sheltered it from extinguishment, indeed gave it fuel, never losing hope nor abating in commitment, always seeking sustainable, just solutions. He was, according to John Ralston Saul, a man with “a rare talent for bringing together two opposites – highly original conceptual thinking and highly pragmatic approaches to getting things done.”

Those of you who have read A Person of Letters know that its protagonist becomes obsessed with environmental activism. When, he wonders, are extreme forms of “direct action” justified? APOL is set in the wake of the 2009 Copenhagen conference on climate change, when environmental activists demonstrated, gate-crashed events, and bannered parliaments, and concerned citizens everywhere marched in the street; but none of that was sufficient to affect the ultimate outcome. In 2009 there was no consensus, no leader who dared upset the global status quo–and thus no meaningful accord was achievable. Copenhagen was a failure, and that was enough to gird APOL’s protagonist into his own idiosyncratic form of direct action.

On its own, activism is not enough; it is helpful, necessary even, but not sufficient. What is needed above all is a genuine and widespread commitment to change. Activists can point the way but we need our leaders to lead, and we need to hold them accountable for what they do (or do not do). And ahead of that we need pathfinders, bridge builders, catalysts, never-give-up facilitators and entrepreneurs like Maurice Strong, people of vision and goodwill with an abidingly respectful and humanist worldview.

Kofi Anan once lauded Strong’s “unwavering commitment to the environment, multilateralism and peaceful resolution of conflicts.” There can be no higher accolade for anyone on the international stage.

Image: rugasavy.com

A Person of Letters, Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Bike trimOver the last several weeks I’ve been personally delivering signed copies of A Person of Letters to people all over Toronto. Usually I do this on my bike. It’s a great form of exercise, and if I wasn’t delivering (and visiting along the way) I’d be cycling anyway on my favourite route through High Park and along Lake Ontario to the mouth of the Mimico and back.

A number of people farther afield have asked how they might get a signed copy of the book.  It’s fantastic to have a personal connection with readers, wherever they may be – but I can’t cycle to Calgary or Victoria. It’s getting cold even going as far as Mimico. In a month or so I’ll need to park the bike for winter.

Today I’m pleased to let you know I’ve worked out a way, via PayPal, to get a personalized copy to those who’d like one, wherever they may be.  The details of the process (it’s very simple) are posted on publisher Martin Scribler Media‘s website on this link.  I particularly like this solution because it provides readers with a secure purchase option via PayPal.  This is important to me, so I understand how important it is to others.

Locally, I’ll still be delivering personally. It’s not yet time to park the bike – although I’ll wait till the remnants of Hurricane Patricia pass the city before I venture out again!