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 that’s the best way to tell the story of a deeply divided nation and the challenges that presents.


My Story

I’ve spent a lifetime either working in politics or observing from some distance its many facets and forms – from advertising and communications, to journalism and the media, to on-the-ground organizing, envelope stuffing and door knocking.

And as a result, I’ve had to watch as it has devolved into the dysfunctional mess it is today. Which is why I decided it was time to turn my attention to reporting on what I’ve seen. 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 a result of having grown tired of reading non-fiction that failed to give me what I’d hoped to find, likely because non-fiction is not about telling the whole story, or generally speaking, any story. All of which is why fiction is what I now prefer to read.

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My dissatisfaction with non-fiction began when I started to realize that the books I was reading were not all that helpful in finding my way to the answers to the problems I saw around me. I often discovered that the introduction to those books had a very good description of the world and how it worked – or 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 their 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 blown away 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.

And the first few sections of the book had many of those statistics and anecdotes, all building to a crescendo towards the final section, where the solutions to those pressing problems promised to be found. But when I got there, I found what seemed like clichéd answers. And as with many such books I’d read, 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. But that was how it felt to me. And the snarkiness likely comes from the anger and disappointment I can still remember feeling. All of which led me to realize that if non-fiction didn’t work for me in such a thoughtful, well-researched and carefully-written book, then it would likely never work for me at all.

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

That is why the writing in political non-fiction tends to come strictly 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, and is why we tend to read those kinds of books in the first place (and blogs and news reports and Tweets and posts etcetera). 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 as economists will likely tell you, for most of them their interests lie in choosing their products based on such factors as price, quality and availability, and not necessarily social good.

And in order to change that dynamic in ways that Klein and others might suggest, requires turning that materialistic tendency on its head. But that would require 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 – at least when it’s from the left, which is what I tended to read.

I don’t want to pick on Naomi Klein – if only because I think she’s a talented writer, and her No Logo a very good book, a monumental book… at least for what it does. But I do feel the need to explain why non-fiction does not work for me – and why, because of the world we now live in, it may not work in general for the social and political problems we face.

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. All of which makes it really difficult to tell a wholly biased account, 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 single-perspective, biased rants.

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

To me, that seems a sensible measure 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 like the book the most are those who are willing, even eager, to explore the vast and complex territory that lies within our current divide, perhaps because they sense 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, relax, and let my contrarian candidate Charlie Wyatt take you on a stimulating one-night journey through the thrilling and mysterious terrain of our enormous and ever-growing Great Cultural Divide.

My Book

Bartholomew St. James

The Contrarian Candidate


It’s debate night in America.

And the one man with a real chance of defeating the twice-impeached president will finally be on that stage. Stand-up comic Charlie Wyatt launched his career on the back of the man, often 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 his 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 powerful 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 or juvenile put-downs. Because the conspiracy-driven madness of his partisan adversaries, has put Charlie in the crosshairs. So as the debate gets under way, and the tension around him builds, nothing less than Charlie’s life and the future of the nation hang in the balance.

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