Lee & Ross beyond the page
April 21st, 2015
Two of the nine speakers at the upcoming Public Salon, April 23, hosted by Sam Sullivan at the Vancouver Playhouse (600 Hamilton Street) on Thursday night are B.C. authors — JJ Lee and Gary Ross
Doors open at 6:30pm
Fringe Percussion – 7:00 – 7:30pm
Presentations: 7:30 – 9:00pm
Post Salon Discussions – Bar Open until 10:00pm
Purchase Your Tickets Here
JJ Lee [not J.J. Lee] of New Westminster was raised on Montreal’s South Shore. His first book, The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit (McClelland & Stewart 2011 / Emblem Editions pp) was shortlisted for the 2011 Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, the 2012 Charles Taylor Prize for Non-Fiction, the 2012 Hubert Evans Prize for Non-Fictio, and the 2012 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize.
It was written when JJ Lee was the menswear columnist for the Vancouver Sun. He spent a year as an apprentice at Modernize Tailors and was featured in the award-winning film about the shop, Tailor Made: The Last Tailor Shop in Chinatown. As Don Orovec has described, “The author, J.J. Lee, keeps one of his father’s suits after his father dies. One day, years after his father’s death, he decides to take the suit out of the closet and deconstruct it. Mr. Lee is an amateur tailor as well as a journalist so it makes sense that he would deconstruct the suit and equally that he would deconstruct his relationship with his father through the process and write about the experience. The author reveals the story of his father as he works on the suit. Once the toast of Montreal, his Dad struggles with his personal challenges and eventually destroys his family, his relationships, and himself. Interwoven with his father’s story are the author’s personal story and the social history of men’s suits.”
Lee studied fine arts at Concordia University and holds a Master of Architecture degree from the University of British Columbia. He has worked as a creative consultant for a design firm and published fashion and personal essays in ELLE Canada. His memoir “ELLE First: You are beautiful” tied for GOLD at the 2011 National Magazine Award for Best Short Feature. In 2014, JJ Lee hosted the CBC radio show, Head to Toe, now available in podcast.
The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit (McClelland & Stewart 2011) $29.99 978-0-7710-4647-6
Born on October 16, 1948 in Toronto, Gary Ross lived in B.C. as a child, then returned to B.C. in 1989 to reside in White Rock. Highly respected as an editor, Gary Ross was a co-founding partner of the Toronto-based publishing firm of Macfarlane, Walter & Ross (1988-2002). Previously he had been a senior editor of Weekend magazine (1977-1980) and Saturday Night (1980-1987). In 2004 he became editor of Saturday Night.
In 1984, Murray Hill, an animal trainer in the United States, disappeared with two full-grown female elephants, Tory and Dutchess, having raised them from birth. For five years he eluded the FBI and the RCMP, believing the elephants had been abused by their owners Dick and Eddie Drake. The drama of how and why Hill concealed two animals that were eating 200 pounds of food per day is the subject for Gary Ross’ At Large: The Fugitive Odyssey of Murray Hill and his Elephants (Stoddart, 1992), his second non-fiction book. It became a Hollywood feature film, Larger Than Life (1996), starring Bill Murray.
Hollywood also met up with Gary Ross’ work due to his first non-fiction book Stung: The Incredible Obsession of Brian Molony (1987), winner of an Arthur Ellis Award and a Canadian Author’s Association Award. In 2003, Ross’ bestseller about a Canadian gambling addict became the basis for the movie Owning Mahowny. The book and the movie recall the exploits of former Toronto bank employee Brian Molony who embezzled $10 million from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in 18 months. Owning Mahowny stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Minnie Driver. Ross remained in touch with Molony after writing the book. Molony served his jail time and became gainfully employed, legally, as a financial consultant.
The Publishers Weekly synopsis for Ross’ novel Tears of the Moon reads: “Convicted of murdering his common-law wife Angela, Owen Wesley insists on his innocence to prison psychiatrist Ron Yoshino. Did she leap to her death, or did he push her, enraged by her affair with another man? Cleverly cast in the form of Owen’s lyrical, staccato-voiced prison journal, this convincing novel oscillates between therapy sessions and graphic scenes of life behind bars, as the reader gropes for an answer along with Owen’s therapist. A man detached from his own feelings, Owen must come to terms with his empty marriage, hatred of his violent-tempered father, his own romantic affair, homoerotic impulses for another inmate and sibling rivalry with his solicitous older brother Jay. While the meandering psychoanalysis eventually bogs down, the author provides compensation through insightful portrayals of the prisoners, among them a heroin addict, a kidnapper and the perpetrator of a voyeuristic telephone hoax.”
Always Tip the Dealer (1980; Seal M&S Bantam, 1982) 978-0770417536 novel
Stung: The Incredible Obsession of Brian Molony (1987; M&S 2002)
Tears of the Moon (Penguin 1989) novel
At Large: The Fugitive Odyssey of Murray Hill and his Elephants (Stoddart, 1992)
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