As part of a TLC Book Tour, I have a rather unconventional guest post from author Will Chluho today. Not surprising as his book Lemonade Revealed is also pretty different too! You can also get a chance to read this new fiction/non-fiction book ... just check out the giveaway at the end of the post (open US/Can). Welcome, Will!
BEA in New York & The Elephant Fable by Will ChluhoI thought I’d nip a morsel from the mammoth BEA (Book Expo America) to share on my guest post. This, I thought, should feed such appetite for all things bookish as yours. For four epic days, industry giants deliberated, discussed, and debated on matters of gargantuan proportion: the future of bricks and mortar booksellers in the age of online empires, the competition for market share between e- and print books, the big pricing brawl between Amazon and the Hachette Book Group.
But. What possibly could I—unknown new author from the tiny island of Singapore some 10,000 miles from New York, a tiny drop in the Pacific of book giants—represent here that truly represents authority? These issues are far too big for me, their intricate details obscurely infinitesimal.
So. What, now? I fumbled for another topic. In my hotel room on 11th, I peered through the floor-to-ceiling window, in search of one on the panoramic expanse of Hudson River: nothing. I turned to the behemoth Intrepid that’s been moored and now made a museum: nothing. The vast blue sky. Nothing. The froth on my coffee. Nothing. I slid my four mindless fingers on the Mac pad—the screen swept from blank page to Guiltless Reading. Perhaps a post or two here would trigger something away? I browsed. Nothing. I scrolled up the page and happened on an elephant nestled at its top-left corner. I gazed at it for a long time. Nothing at first, and then...I gradually zoned off from modern day New York to 7th century East Asia:
The ancient king patted his leviathan elephant on its tree trunk of a leg. He turned toward each of the nine blind men whom he’d summoned to the palace hall.
“Before you, there is an elephant,” he said. “By the end of the day, you will give me a description of what it is.”The king’s guards guided each blind man to his spot, so that all nine were positioned at a specific part of its huge body. No one knew where the other was, for they were instructed to stay within their assigned area.
“A camel’s hump!” exclaimed the blind man who was assigned to the elephant’s head, presently riding it with a royal sense of accomplishment. “That is all there is to the elephant,” he exerted. “Do we need a day!”
“Bah!” spat the man at the tip of the elephant tail. “Your sense of touch must have gotten as blind as our sight.” He brushed his own hand with the tip of the tail. “Surely the elephant is a paintbrush.”
“Farfetched! The elephant is a big hand fan,” said the one at the ear.
“A very long blowing horn,” said the blind man at the tusk.
The man at the trunk startled. “Will the elephant coil me up like a python?” “A hanging vine, is all!” chortled the one holding the tail.
So it was. The other men—on the elephant back, at its leg, and its side—each had a different definition of an elephant. The nine could not agree with one another, each as certain as the other was. Some of them argued fierily, others withdrew into cold silence, still others worked their hands more intensely on the elephant to reinforce what they believed to be the elephant. And the day was up.
The doors drew apart. A splash of light cast on the elephant and the nine blind men. The king, bemused at the pathetic sight of their dividedness, roared in laughter. “So?” he thundered. “What is an elephant?” His question ignited a mob of arguments. Shouting. Foot stamping. Finger pointing. Fist jerks. Yelling. Cursing. And everything. Were they not positioned apart, the blind men would have resorted to a physical fight.
“One more day!” the king’s commanding voice overrode the quarrelsome hullabaloo. The blind men silenced. “I give you one more day.” The king, before exiting the hall, added on a quiet note: “Maybe. Just maybe none of the others is wrong even as you are right.” The king departed, the doors behind him shut and locked.
My smartphone beeped. I was transported back to New York.
Looking at my screen, which now pullulated with this ancient fable, “The Elephant and the Blind Men,” I thought, A random story for Guiltless Reading, it is! Considering, nonetheless, the ongoing BEA tensions: bricks and mortar against online retailing, e-books against print books, Amazon against Hachette. Not that random, after all—this elephantine fable.
About Will ChluhoAs an urban pragmatist, Will Chluho was a creative director who’d served on world-renowned brands such as BlackBerry, Mercedes-Benz, and Singapore Airlines. As a spiritual “romanticist” of sorts who sought solace, he’d lived four years as a Franciscan friar, a major in philosophy and theology. He’s 44, married, and advancing his philosophical studies with the University of London.
2 paperbacks (US/Can) Prizes
Lemonade Revealed by Will Chluho:
FICTION: A boy on a voyage to find his true father regained consciousness on an unknown island to the curious stares of three old men: a warrior, a trader, and a priest. The lost boy would later discover through a mysterious man–a skinhead with an eye tattoo on his neck–that one among the trio could be the father he’d been looking for….
NONFICTION: This “little yellow book” is a good place to reclaim such good old-fashioned gems as “faith” and “hope” under the demythologized light of human reason. It is a phenomenological examination on the possibility and probability of a divine existent vis-à-vis a real world of human frailties and frictions. Lemonade Revealed is a timely discourse in a timeless (and engaging) story.
Check out the rest of the tour here.
Publisher: Twiitaga Pte LTD (June, 2014)