Acclaimed author JJ Lee to present at Friday workshop

The Comox Valley Writers' Society will host a free public workshop March 7 with acclaimed author JJ Lee.

The Measure of a Man is Lee's critically acclaimed debut book.

For years, journalist and amateur tailor JJ Lee tried to ignore the navy suit that hung at the back of his closet — his late father's last suit. When he decides to finally make the suit his own, little does he know he is about to embark on a journey into his own past.

Part personal memoir, part social history of the man's suit, it is a deeply moving and brilliantly crafted story of fathers and sons, love and forgiveness, of fitting in and standing out — and discovering what it means to be your own man.

As JJ moves across the surface of the suit, he reveals the heartbreaking tale of his father, a charismatic but luckless restaurateur whose demons brought tumult upon his family.

He also recounts the year he spent as an apprentice tailor at Modernize Tailors, the last of Vancouver's legendary Chinatowntailors, where he learns invaluable lessons about life from his octogenarian master tailor.

Woven throughout these two personal strands are entertaining stories from the social history of the man's suit, the surprisingbattleground where the war between generations has long been fought.

With wit, bracing honesty, and great narrative verve, JJ takes us from the French Revolution to the Zoot Suit Riots,from the Japanese Salaryman to Mad Men, from Oscar Wilde in short pants to Marlon Brando in a T-shirt, and from the rarified rooms of Savile Row to a rundown shop in Chinatown.

It's a book that will forever change the way you think about the maxim "the clothes make the man," this is a universal story of love and forgiveness and breaking with the past."

The book was a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writer's Trust Prize for Literary Non‑Fiction (2012), the BC Book Prize's Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize (2012), the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction (2012) and the Governor-General's Literary Award.

Participants of the workshop March 7 at the Courtenay Public Library from noon 12.00 to 1:30 are encouraged to bring samples of their work to share, following a presentation by Lee.

He was a presenter at the 2013 Campbell River Words on the Water Festival but, as he said, "I flew into town on a plane and this time I plan to stay and see some of the local area."

He recently moved to the West Coast from Montreal with his wife and two children.

He will also read from his novel at North Island College on March 6 at 7 p.m.

— Comox Valley Writers' Society

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