About Bartholomew St. James

Bartholomew St. James is a one-time political operative, and lifelong political observer, who’s turned his talents to reporting on the politics of our day. And he’s done it with fiction, because he feels the answers to our political challenges can only be truly appreciated and understood when seen and heard, and touched and felt. Besides, he figures it’s way more fun that way.


My Story

I’ve spent a lifetime either working in politics or watching how it works in all its facets and forms – from advertising and communications, to journalism and the media, to on-the-ground organizing, envelope stuffing and door knocking.  

And with political dysfunction now the order of the day, I decided it was time to turn my attention to writing what I’ve discovered along the way. But unlike most writers who might feel the need to do that, I decided to do it with fiction. And I suppose that’s mainly because fiction is what I now prefer to read – having grown tired of non-fiction that did nothing to offer solutions to the problems I felt needed to be solved. And I figure that’s mainly because that type of writing is not about telling the whole story.

My dissatisfaction with non-fiction, I suppose, also comes from the writer in me and what that perspective and propensity has done to shape how I see the many problems we now face. Because over time I began to realize that the non-fiction I was reading was not all that helpful in finding the answers to those problems.

 I often discovered that the introduction to those books had a very good description of the world and how it worked – or more often how it didn’t work. And the first few chapters generally added to the detail of that description and analysis. But having made a great case for what our problems were, and getting my juices up for learning the solutions, in the end those books always seemed to leave me flat.

 And for me that came to a head when in I read Naomi Klein’s breakout book No Logo. I remember being excited by the accuracy and descriptive detail with which she documented the kinds of economic and political problems we were facing. Her book worked not least because those descriptions came with timely statistics that really delivered a punch, such as when she outlined, then Disney CEO Michael Eisner’s, economic relationship with the Haitian women who made Disney’s t-shirts, in part by saying, “…it would take Haitian workers 16.8 years to earn Eisner’s hourly income.”

 And the first few sections of the book had many such statistics and anecdotes, all building to a crescendo towards the final section, where the promise of a solution to those most pressing problems surely had to be found. But when I got there, I found nothing but what seemed like cliched answers. And as with many such books, those “answers” seemed to suggest that the entire world would suddenly realize where it had gone wrong and come together in a kumbaya moment of global redemption.

 Obviously I’m being facetious and more than a little snarky when I say that. But that was how it felt to me. And the snarkiness likely comes from the anger and disappointment I can still remember feeling.

 Sorry to pick on Naomi Klein, because she’s a talented writer and No Logo is a very good book, a monumenatal book in fact… at least for what it does. And I now realize that may be part of the problem – that it was such a good book.

 There’s a saying in advertising – that good advertising can kill a bad product. The reasoning being, that a bad product can limp along for months on end, all the while getting a small share of the market, as people gradually try it and find out it’s no good. But then a really effective ad comes along. Suddenly everyone who is ever likely to try it, does so, only to collectively find out the product isn’t any good. And as a result, no one ever buys it again and the market share drops to zero.

 And I guess in a way that’s what happened to me with No Logo. When I read it, it seemed to be the ultimate in political non-fiction – an advertisement for it if you will. But it didn’t work for me. And I realized in that moment that if it didn’t work for me in such a thoughtful, highly-researched and well-written book, then it had to be true that none of it would ever likely work. And that’s why I seldom tried non-fiction again. Because I knew it wouldn’t work.

 And in retrospect that almost seems inevitable. Perhaps that’s because in sociological realms, like politics, finding solutions requires an ability to see both sides of any problems or divisions that exist. Because in order to solve those problems you need to reach deep into both sides of those divides. But the political divisiveness in the world today makes any attempt to reach across the aisle very difficult, if not impossible.

 And to make matters worse, with political non-fiction, it is more or less prescribed that the writing has to come from one side or the other. Because readers looking for that type of literature generally only want to see one side – their own side. That’s just our tribal nature as human beings, and is why we read those kinds of books in the first place (and blogs and news reports and Tweets and posts etc.). And in Naomi Klein’s case, that meant taking the side of social good as opposed to capitalistic profit.

 But in between those considerations lies much, if not most of human nature. And that is why her kumbaya moment never materialized. Consumers are people too. And as a result they have personal interests. And for most of them their interests lie in deciding on their purchases because of such factors as price, quality and availability, not necessarily social good.

 And in order to change that dynamic in ways that Klein and others might suggest, requires turning that economic tendancy on its head. And that would take a change in social and cultural order that would dwarf anything that has ever come before it. Which is unlikely to come together in a flash of kumbaya expediency. Yet that is the kind of solution that generally seems to come from that type of literature.

 Again, I don’t want to pick on Klein. But I do feel the need to explain why non-fiction does not work for me, and may not work in general for the social and political issues we face in the kind of world we now live in.

 But fiction is a different story, in that it is all about the story. And sure enough my story is about politics. And like any story there are several sides to it. In fact, if you want to put a fine point on it, there’s a story for every one of the characters. Which makes it really difficult to tell a wholly biased story, at least if you’re being honest and accurate in your presentation of the world.

Even in first person fiction, the main protagonist has to consider the thoughts, feelings and ideas of others as he goes through life and tells his story – again, if the story is to ring true. And if it doesn’t, then the writing generally falls flat. Because who doesn’t get tired of biased rants from only one perspective or another. Think about those people you know who are always talking about their problems – and nothing but their problems. It gets tired pretty quickly doesn’t it?

 It has been said (though I can’t remember by who) that what made Tolstoy’s writing so great (and in some ways so long) was that he had a natural tendancy to present both sides of whatever debate or argument his stories wandered into.

 To me that seems one sensible judge of good writing. And I hope The Contrarian Candidate lives up to that test.

 To this point the reviews seem to suggest it does. They also suggest that readers who most like my book may be those who are willing, even eager, to explore the vast and complex territory that lies within our current divide – perhaps because they intuitively know that is where the answers to our problems truly lie.

 Either way, that is where I would now like to take you.

 So please sit back in your comfy chair, and let my contrarian candidate Charlie Wyatt, in his unique, disorderly and dysfunctional way, take you on a journey through that thrilling and mysterious terrain.

My Book

Bartholomew St. James

The Contrarian Candidate


It’s debate night in America.

And the one man with a practical plan for defeating the twice-impeached president will finally be on that stage. Stand-up comic Charlie Wyatt launched his career on the back of that inveterate huckster, once referring to him as DUPHUS – like POTUS, only not. Charlie voted for him in 2016, only to wake up the next morning with a monumental hangover and the sudden realization of what he’d done.  

He couldn’t take that vote back. But with the help of his politico girlfriend Laura, he could challenge the man for the party’s nomination. And now thanks to Laura’s explosive new strategy, it seems Charlie may have a real shot.

But to win it he’ll have to survive the night. And that won’t just be about scheming gotcha questions and juvenile put-downs. Because there’s a gun-toting janitor lurking in the debate hall, who’s conspiracy-driven madness has put Charlie in his sights. So as the evening grows to a climax, nothing less than Charlie’s life and the future of the country hang in the balance.  

In other words, it’s a fairly typical night in the political life of America.

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