In the spirit of Thin Air, the Winnipeg International Writers Festival that runs next week, please allow me to introduce a wonderful author. He’s a man of former wealth and current fame.
Or reintroduce: A Matter of Principle is Conrad Black’s fifth book, the second instalment of his autobiography. Black has published over 3,500 pages between hard covers, and many more in essays, letters and legal writs.
He's Canadian, too – or he was, until he renounced his citizenship to sit in the British House of Lords.
Twenty years ago Black was the boss of Hollinger, one of the world’s largest newspaper groups. Today he’s in a Florida prison, convicted of defrauding investors.
Reading his latest opus to review it for the Winnipeg Free Press, I find myself again loving the writing but not the writer.
One of the most seductive elements of Black’s writing is its vitriol.
“Raising children is a good formation for dealing with editors and journalists. They are fiendishly clever at promising compliance with the wishes of the owner, appearing to give superficial adherence while in fact continuing in their exceptionable practices.”
When shareholder groups began to sniff around the corporate payments that have sent him to jail, Black sought support from associates who, he claims to believe, had approved them.
“I encountered a pandemic of amnesia.”
Come for the schadenfreude, stay for the literature.
A Matter of Principle: It’s a helluva book.