March 2011

Praise for The Blue Light Project

 The Blue Light Project has garnered a lot of press attention this past week. And it’s almost all been very positive. The book is an Amazon.ca New and Notable Title as well as an Amazon.ca Spring Book Feature. Author profiles have now run in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and National Post.

But the reviews have been really appreciative and I’m proud to share a few quotes with you.

Delightfully engrossing. . . . Holding The Blue Light Project together is Taylor’s prose style, which jumps across the page like a joyful, risk-loving parkour artist.” -- Winnipeg Free Press

An ambitious novel, one that challenges its readers to pay attention or get left behind, but it is definitely worth the necessary concentration. . . . It is about the power of art to heal in the aftermath of tragedy. And from a literary standpoint, it works extremely well. The Blue Light Project’s closing image will stay with readers for a long time after they close the book. . . . A wonderful novela thought-provoking and challenging story that will lead to debate and discussion among readers and might even change the way you look at our celebrity-driven culture.” -- The Vancouver Sun

Taylor is an intelligent writer, and one whose novels suggest that he has strong political convictions. Some of the best and most unsettling moments come when the grim ironies of the plot illustrate how governments . . . are quietly dismantling long-taken-for-granted rights and privileges and replacing them with libertarian pseudo-freedoms. . . . Taylor will one day be a Canadian icon.” -- J.C. Sutcliffe, The Globe and Mail

A breakneck literary thriller that combines the worlds of conspiracy theory, reality TV, celebrity culture and street art.” -- Mark Medley, National Post

Astonishing, breath-taking passages of explosive writing. . . . One of the most beautiful and moving codas to a novel I have read for many a year. . . . The Blue Light Project will give you pause, will make you look at media differently than you did before, and the hostage-taking . . . will keep you engaged. . . . A novel worth reading.” -- By the Book Reviews

“It’s tempting to race through The Blue Light Project. It has the compelling narrative momentum and intricate plotting of a thriller. Resist the temptation, because this fourth book from Vancouver’s Timothy Taylor is as much a novel of ideas as it is a page-turner. It’s a crucible of topical issues. . . . By turns hopeful and alarming, The Blue Light Project is a thought-provoking take on what one character calls ‘our toxic times.’” -- Barbara Carey, Toronto Star

“Terrorism, fame, celebrity worship, art vs. commerce––they’re all themes that can and do carry many a novel by themselves, so Taylor risks overload in taking on all of them. He manages it by skilfully juggling the intimate with the public, the small-scale with the monumental. Confining the action to a three-day period, he ramps up the suspense as effectively as any more conventional thriller writer could. . . . The scenario he presents is all too plausible, the time all too contemporary. Best of all––and here is where the writer he most recalls is Don DeLillo––Taylor finds surprising angles into his material. . . . In the end, for all horror on display, hope is what The Blue Light Project holds out.” -- Ian McGillis, The Gazette

Beautifully written and brimming with important ideas. . . . Taylor skillfully portrays a city losing its collective mind. . . . Offering astute satire . . . , Taylor comments pointedly on celebrity and art’s redemptive qualities. The sequence where Rabbit puts his installation into place has an exquisite tension showcasing Taylor’s excellent chops. . . . His themes are absolutely of the moment, and his characters are consistently fascinating.” -- NOW (Toronto)

 

Posted: Monday, Mar. 7, 2011 10:05am

There's a riot going on: Talking to Timothy Taylor about The Blue Light Project

From the Montreal Gazette, an interview with Ian McGillis.

 

 

Timothy Taylor's new The Blue Light Project is that rare beast: a popular novel of ideas. It's a book whose firm narrative grip goes hand in hand with its thematic depth, a book that addresses topical issues with a rigor that feels timeless, while retaining a playfulness, suspensefulness, and plain readability that many a thriller writer would sell his last plot convention for. Last week, I was able to sit down and talk with Taylor during his brief promotional swing through Montreal. He was feeling a bit rough but rose to the occasion admirably. For maximum enjoyment of what follows, readers are encouraged to first check my Gazette review of the book. Also, the curious are urged to explore Taylor's above-linked website for information on some of the street artists whose work helped inspire the novel.  IM
 
The Blue Light Project pulls in and refracts a lot of themes. It's a very ambitious novel in that sense. I wonder, from among all that you've taken on, what the kernel for the book was for you.
 
The original motive was actually not thematic, it was more structural. I wanted to write something that had a very strong front-to-back pull. Like an artist might wake up one morning and decide they want to work in muted pastel shades, I decided that I really wanted something that had urgency. That just felt right for me now, instead of something slower-paced and contemplative. ...
Posted: Saturday, Mar. 12, 2011 9:11am

Don Delillo

I'm hugely flattered by some recent and heavy praise for The Blue Light Project, a "thriller that makes you think" about a hostage crisis in a television studio.

In each of these reviews, I've been compared to Don Delillo, who is a serious hero of mine. That comparison leaves me speechless (almost) but grateful.

The book is now available. Please have a look:

1) on AMAZON.ca

2) on AMAZON.com

3) or as an EBOOK right here

Here are the amazing review quotes:

Best of all – and here is where the writer he most recalls is Don DeLillo – Taylor finds surprising angles into his material. A man holding lives in his hands, in a position to demand almost anything, wants only to talk to a small-time journalist. Why? The answer would be unfair to reveal in a review, but it can be said that when it is revealed, what’s offered is not a neat resolution but a whole new set of questions, their implications spreading in all directions. Ian McGillis, MONTREAL GAZETTE Read the full review

The best thing Timothy Taylor has written yet. He has DeLillo-like moments here, if DeLillo were to climb out of the limousine and hang out in the back alleys for a while. Taylor has DeLillo’s knack for seeing the ¬connections between seemingly unconnected things and assembling them into a portrait of our time. Call him a street artist of the page. Peter Darbyshire VANCOUVER PROVINCE Read the full review.

Timothy Taylor is Canada's DeLillo. The Blue Light Project really brings it into focus. Art, reality TV, celebrity - it's all here. The last 20 or so pages are unimaginably great, some of the best writing you will read. It's paced like a thriller, a taut thriller and in its own way, it's that as well. But it's also an extremely profound - and at time hilarious - meditation on our celebrity obsessed culture and our need for "reality" in entertainment. Highly recommended. Arjun Basu, Content Director, Spafax

The Blue Light Project is available now:

1) on AMAZON.ca

2) on AMAZON.com

3) and as an EBOOK

 

 

Posted: Friday, Mar. 25, 2011 9:32am

Blue Light Project Street Art - Part I

I've just published a new novel about a street artist, the semi-fictional Rabbit. The book's been getting amazing reviews.

Then the other day Banksy tweeted about it. Nice!

But this series of posts isn't about the book. It's about the artists in my part of the world who inspired Rabbit and make him "semi-fictional". Artists whose work ended up in the book as photographs: JermIX, Cameraman, Rich S, A01 and legendary graffiti writer and train artist Take 5.

(There were others who didn't want to be named.)

Please note that book is now available:

1) on AMAZON.ca
2) on AMAZON.com
3) or as an EBOOK right here

This first photo I'll highlight is a piece by Cameraman and Emma, Vancouver artists who work with photography and sound respectively. They collaborated to make this alarm clock. It lit up bright orange and started ringing at 9:00 PM one winter's night in the Strathcona neighborhood in Vancouver.

The sound came from dozens of dollar-store alarm clocks hidden in the weeds nearby. It sounded like a million crickets singing at once.

Wish you could have been there. People were running out of their houses and studios to stand in the street and watch.

People were talking to strangers.

People were smiling.

Unfortunately, since those little dollar-store alarm clocks aren't very smart, the clock rang again at 9:00 AM the next morning. Someone wasn't very happy about that and took a baseball bat to all those poor little clocks.

Still, it was a glorious thing while it lasted. It was one of the first pieces of street art I witnessed go up and "go off". It marked the beginning of something for me. An obsession.

Also, a novel, which I'd be honored if you checked out.

The Blue Light Project is available:

1) on AMAZON.ca
2) on AMAZON.com
3) or as an EBOOK right here

Check in for Part II of this series. I'll be looking at a piece by the mysterious, elusive Rabbit.

 

Posted: Tuesday, Mar. 29, 2011 8:51am

"...the name Rene Girard may ring a bell..."

I'm outed as an admirer of Girard by Humber College Professor of Political Philosophy Kent Enns. He's writing about my new novel The Blue Light Project.

If you're interested in Girard and the urgency of his ideas, you might enjoy the novel. About a three day hostage crisis at the studio of a controversial reality television show, the book takes on terror, celebrity, and their disturbing points of overlap.

Here is Professor Enns' review of the book:

THE  BLUE LIGHT PROJECT AND THE URGENCY OF THE NOW

Under the persistent sway of pecuniary-minded editorship, the mainstream of Canadian literature has for the past several decades massaged the novel-buying Canadian public with heartfelt, achingly personal "local fictions," that are reassuring in their affirmations of love and domestic fortitude amidst Canada's natural, rural and coastal glories. These fictions might be classified the way art historians refer to the mannered domestically-oriented still-lives and portraits of 16th Century Flemish painting: miniaturist. When this vein in Canadian literary fiction seemed all but overworked, our readership was regaled with the same domestic miniaturism but this time the ghosts of Canada's history were set in motion along with the usual quotidian suspects. Of course, occasional exceptions peek above these re-iterations of the familiar (one thinks of Ondaatje, M. Richler, Atwood in her better books, and the crucial explorations of contemporary international experience, as Mistry has done). This now familiar miniaturism, it must be noted, has worked wonders for Canadian fiction on the international stage. Drawing on preconceptions of Canada as rural and morally righteous, our literary editorship has done much to bolster the Canada brand. 

The way we live now, however, is deeply embedded in and expressed through the modalities of technology and globalized economics, politics and culture. And for those of us who turn to literature as an art form that takes up and explores central meanings and implacable contradictions in contemporary experience, those previously mentioned re-iterations of the familiar, however finely wrought, cannot but fail to be somewhat beside the point. In this contrast between the familiar Canadian miniaturist brand and the urgency of the globalized now, Timothy Taylor's new novel, The Blue Light Project, takes its stand. As a writer who in his non-fiction has explored the vagaries of global fashions in travel, food, restaurant design, and popular culture, Taylor is an author with his finger on the pulse of contemporary taste and the pervasive economic and political forces that shape such sensibilities. Thus, subtly supporting this taut novel of confrontations between celebrity and politics, personal disgrace and the possibility of redemption, is an elaborate architecture of ideas. 

One of the main clues to this structure is a relatively minor character named Girard. For those who keep up with debates in literary and anthropological theory, as well as in evolutionary psychology and the contemporary significance of religion, the name Rene Girard may ring a bell. (Perhaps the best introduction to his thought is the outstanding five-part CBC Ideas radio documentary, "The Scapegoat".) Girard theorizes that archaic cultures have traditionally maintained their cohesiveness through sacrificial practices, where internal crises generate panic and contagious persecutorial fears and which find a release in the spontaneous killing of a scapegoat. Rituals and prohibitions found in every culture represent for Girard attempts to regulate crises and redeploy this beneficial outcome -- hence the evidence of human and/or animal sacrifice in virtually every culture of which we have record, let alone the startling similarities in many foundational myths from different cultures in which an outsider figure is depicted as a pollution or threat and the community itself as innocent. Working against this tendency in the history of the West and now on an increasingly global scale are insights first expounded, according to Girard, in Biblical narratives (Joseph and Jesus are obvious examples) in which the collective is depicted as culpable and the intended sacrificial victim as innocent. Thus our modern concern with victims, with the oppressed and the downtrodden. This leaves us moderns in a precarious position-- we crave, we may even need, the collective psychological satisfactions of sacrifice yet we also abhor and abjure the very production of victims that sacrifice (and perhaps even politics) requires. 

And what has any of this to do with The Blue Light Project? In this finely executed novel, Timothy Taylor depicts the intersection of four lives, a burned out and disgraced journalist, a sporting celebrity, an unknown street artist, and a political terrorist whose motivations, in the end, expose themes central to this story. And undergirding a page-turner that will satisfy the most ardent of thrill seekers are two sacrificial structures that Taylor uncannily reveals to be at the core of contemporary experience: celebrity and Western expansionist politics. The hostage taking at the studios of a Canadian Idol-like program forces into our awareness the social usefulness and collective gratifications of a system that produces star after star and yet this same machinery repeatedly depicts the sacrificial downfall of our "polluted" idols -- Charlie Sheen, anyone? Lindsay Lohan? Mel Gibson? We experience collective elations not only at their rise but their fall conduces to even greater satisfactions. Running parallel to this, in Taylor's cultural-political economy, is a hidden system of sacrifice that bolsters modern expansionist democracies -- the torture chambers, extra-ordinary renditions and extraditions, and the quasi-legal gulag of off-shore detention facilities that covertly enforce Western ideals and protect our culture from further exposures of its core contradictions. 

By placing his novel at the centre not only of contemporary life but also in the flux of beliefs and morally contradictory practices that sustain globalized living in the West, Taylor relentlessly insists that the vocation of Canadian fiction is in the now, it is in the Twitter feeds and popular media, the international trends and the political machinations that churn endlessly at our lives. Taylor's response to the staid "local fictions" of much Canadian literature is to give us an unnamed city that is as "linked in" and connected as any on the planet. The Blue Light Project has a lot of balls in the air -- fame and celebrity, street art, politics and the secret service, Girard and sacrifice -- and Timothy Taylor masterfully balances these things. And many others. Miniaturist it is not. It is a genuinely moving novel, building to a great climax and with a denouement that provokes the kind of reflection on what has happened, on how it has been depicted, that only the best fiction can do. 

Kent Enns is Professor of Political Philosophy at Humber College in a city named Toronto.

Read more about The Blue Light Project, or even obtain a copy, at AMAZON.ca orAMAZON.com. It can also be downloaded as an EBOOK here.

Posted: Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011 6:14am