Angie Abdou

February 2014

The Blue Light Project by Timothy Taylor

Available at Polar Peek Books & Treasures in downtown Fernie. Polar Peek will also be at the library on February 21 selling all of Taylor’s books, which you can then have autographed by the author.
- Reviewed by Angie Abdou for The Fernie Fix’s February 2014 Issue

Timothy Taylor, The Blue Light ProjectTimothy Taylor is coming! Timothy Taylor is coming! Timothy Taylor is coming!

I don’t know how many books I need to publish before I stop being starstruck by my own friends, but apparently it’s more than three. Timothy Taylor, author of the best-selling and critically acclaimed Stanley Park, is a writer completely deserving of such adulation. Not yet fifty years old, Timothy Taylor is already respected as one of our country’s great thinkers. I could listen to him talk for hours, and all of Fernie is going to have that very opportunity (or at least, we will have the opportunity to listen to him talk for nearly ONE hour on February 21st at the Fernie Heritage Library).

After leaving his career as a banker in 1991, Taylor quickly became an important name on the Canadian literature scene. In 2000 (yes – nine years is quick by writing standards), Taylor was the first (and still the only) writer ever to have three pieces of short fiction included in the Journey Prize Anthology (an annual collection of each year’s best short stories). Despite his unprecedented success in the short story form, Taylor has told Quill and Quire that his heart is with writing novels.

The Canadian Encyclopedia entry on Taylor (which was written by me – I told you: I’m a fan!) outlines some of the achievements of his first novel: “A finalist for the Scotia Bank Giller Prize and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, Stanley Park was also the 2003 One Book, One City selection for Vancouver and a selection for the 2007 Canada Reads debate, where it was defended by singer-songwriter Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo. As the title suggests, Stanley Park is strongly grounded in place and highlights Taylor’s oft praised talent for depicting contemporary urban life.”

Though Stanley Park is a much-loved novel, and fully deserving of that love, I believe his more recent book, The Blue Light Project, is his best novel yet. On the dust-jacket, Steven Galloway claims he read The Blue Light Project cover-to-cover in a single sitting and then started reading it again the very next day. I thought: typical hyperbolic blurb nonsense! But then I found myself doing exactly that: finishing The Blue Light Project on a bus to Whistler (even that view couldn’t distract me!) and then immediately starting again right at the beginning. I would say I raced through this compelling, high-suspense story, except there were lines so profound and brilliant that I had to rest the book on my lap and sit for a while inside a single sentence. I’ve been quoting from it ever since. This is a novel packed with life: hostage-takings, reality TV gone wrong, parkour, drug addiction, street art, explosions, corrupt journalists, disillusioned Olympians, resilient children, disappearing brothers. The Blue Light Project is a jaw-droppingly good book about contemporary urban existence and the role art and celebrity play within it.

To quote again from my own Canadian Encyclopedia entry on The Blue Light Project: “Early in the novel Eve Latour, an Olympic athlete much lauded for her heroic completion of a race under the harshest of circumstances, claims ‘Finishing is just what you do. I imagine it takes more courage to quit.’ This message applies to a variety of ‘races,’ and Taylor asks readers to pause and consider our society’s current trajectories rather than blindly staying the course.”

The Blue Light Project is a novel that stimulates important discussion. Fernie readers will soon have the opportunity to engage in that discussion with the author himself. Join us at the Fernie Heritage Library on February 21st (patron social at 6:45, presentation begins at 8pm). Come welcome award-winning author Timothy Taylor to our beautiful town.

Angie Abdou is a local fiction writer. She is excited to host Timothy Taylor on February 21 when he comes to Fernie as the third author in Fernie Heritage Library’s reading series: Booked! For more information on Angie’s books and upcoming speaking engagements see this website.
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