Vancouver novelist Timothy Taylor finds hope in unexpected places with The Blue Light Project
Vancouver-based writer Timothy Taylor’s novels are a somewhat rare commodity in Canadian fiction: novels with big ideas, yes, but where things actually happen as well. His Giller Prize-nominated Stanley Park (2001) was a thriller about foodism and homelessness in Vancouver, two themes that seemed twinned, especially at that time, to that city’s sense of itself.
In his third novel, The Blue Light Project, the themes are similar yet distinct: fame, identity, fear and the possibly imminent end of civilization as we know it, or at least the potential for vast change in the way we live, which might already be underway (the latter is less of a theme than a sense that permeates Taylor’s work, not only his fiction but travel magazine pieces in publications such as The Walrus and EnRoute). For that reason, he’s made sure that The Blue Light Project is set nowhere in particular, or rather, in an urban everycity that could be any city at all.
"That choice was deliberate because I think that there are, these days, far more commonalities than there are differences [between cities]," says Taylor. "It’s easy for people living in any city now to lead very similar lives… and this mental topography [of sameness] is true of me too. I live here, but in a lot of different places as well."
The Blue Light Project is an event thriller about a hostage-taking at a taping of an American Idol-style show for kids called KiddieFame. Eva is a gold-medal Olympic athlete seeking a new purpose for her life, and Rabbit is an underground artist whose new project aims to network the city in new ways; there’s also an unnamed hostage-taker and a self-loathing celebrity journalist who is the only person the hostage-taker will talk to.
Taylor’s prose is interested in the spaces between people and how they connect, and ultimately (not to give too much of the plot away) the way they intersect. The hope that is offered in the darkest days comes in the form of the most outsider art form of all: the street art that appears in the streets and alleys of, well, everycity.
"Urban spaces are contiguous everywhere," says Taylor, "and street art in particular is a cultural form that just flies between cities as if there were no differences… I’m not suggesting art can save us, but street art comes, as a friend of mine told me, as a gift."
The Blue Light Project