Anthony Livingston Hall
Author of The iPINIONS Journal: 2005: The Year in Review and The iPINIONS Journal: Commentaries on Current Events Volume II, Anthony Livingston Hall is a lawyer, syndicated columnist, and certified fitness trainer. He lives and works in metropolitan Washington, D.C.
Tabitha: What inspired you to begin writing your column, The iPINIONS Journal?
A. L. Hall: Would that I could chalk it up to inspiration. In fact, I was effectively drafted after an associate set up the blog platform, invited me to her office and commanded me to write! She did this in utter exasperation because, for months, she’d been making futile appeals to my political conscience to “launch [my] unique voice into the Blogoshere”.
Tabitha: I understand that you have many readers and fans in The Caribbean. Is your column available in print form outside your blog or books?
A. L. Hall: Yes. It is distributed through a syndicate to regional newspapers. Although a number of editors (of newspapers and online news-sites) routinely republish my articles without regard to this formal arrangement. But I don’t mind – so long as they give proper attribution….
Tabitha: Do you think these publications have helped establish your status as a writer or increased interest in your two books?
A. L. Hall: Absolutely…to the limited extent I am established. After all, even though I appreciate comparisons to people like Maureen Dowd and Tom Friedman, I am acutely aware that I’m not even on the same planet when it comes to literary status - to say nothing of book sales.
Tabitha: Since your first book has not been reviewed here, would you like to describe or critique its content as being in any way different from that of Volume II?
A. L. Hall: In form, my first book is the same – hence the “Volume II” designation for this one. In substance, however, the material difference can be seen in the table of contents; because each volume differs as the world turns. And that reflects the joy I derive from writing and compiling my commentaries. l hope my books constitute a user-friendly anthology of contemporary world history. But I have no doubt that they provide readers the most portable access to the most noteworthy events of our times – hopefully in compelling essay form.
Indeed, besides their literary merit, the following story illustrates an entertaining reason to buy my books. A reader shared in an e-mail that, shortly after reading my first book, she hosted a dinner party in NYC (in the Fall of 2005) for a group of friends – almost all of whom she (reasonably) assumed were far more well-read and knowledgeable than she was about world events. And, in an innocent attempt to contribute to the dinner conversation, she asked if anyone could recall any of the major events of March 2005. But after only awkward silence and deflective laughter ensued, she went over to her coffee table, picked up my book and read aloud (from the table of contents) the title of each commentary from that month. A reading which, I was very pleased to learn, was greeted with applause and solicitous enquiries about my book….
Tabitha: You state in your book that you come from a place called The Turks and Caicos Islands. Where exactly is that? Would you describe life on a Caribbean Island away from the cruise ship gangplank?
A. L. Hall: The Turks and Caicos Islands are situated perpendicular to the Southern tip of the archipelago of The Bahamas. I appreciate this question especially because too many tourists who visit us via floating cities (and even some who stay at curiously xenophobic “all inclusive resorts”) see little of our islands and interact even less with our people. (With the complicity of venal government officials, many resort operators actually import cheap(er) and more exploitable help from even poorer regional countries. Therefore, it’s possible for tourists to vacation there and never meet a native person….)
But our islands retain much of the provincial charm that has been despoiled by overdevelopment elsewhere. In fact, many of our settlements compare to those one might find in quaint sections of Cuba. However, the joy of freedom is clearly manifest in the faces of our inhabitants. And, of course, we have some of the best beaches in world: And that’s no jingoistic bunk; that’s according to Condé Nast Traveler. I would be remiss, however, if I did not take this opportunity to convey the genuine affection and appreciation we have for the tourists on whom the vast majority of us rely for our daily bread. And this is reflected in the unvarnished hospitality we offer each and every visitor.
Tabitha: As a columnist covering many different political arenas with your commentaries, how would you describe your political leanings?
A. L. Hall: Progressive libertarian: On some issues, I might seem like an arch-conservative. But on other issues, I might seem like a flaming liberal. This, of course, renders me an apostate according to both Democratic and Republican orthodoxy, which makes me very proud indeed.
Tabitha: After the bellowing, bellicose, one-sided political pundits have yelled us into the ground, your attitude seems to be a breath of fresh air. How much of this benign outlook was born on Caribbean island soil?
A. L. Hall: Hmmm, what an interesting association that is. It has never occurred to me. But I can see how the laid back nature of my Caribbean upbringing may now contribute to the unflappable character of my articles. (I’ll have to give that one a little more thought….)
Tabitha: If you could suggest to George Bush one thing that he could do to improve his standing in our minds and the world, what would you say to him?
A. L. Hall: Lift the embargo against Cuba!
Tabitha: What is the best advice you could offer to the U.S. Congress?
A. L. Hall: I fear it would be wasted. After all, Congress seems even more politically tone deaf than the White House has become. Indeed, Congressional leaders appear completely oblivious to the fact that the American people are even more disgusted with them than they are with President Bush. But to answer your question, I would advise members of both parties to stop carping at Bush about Iraq; especially since they are clearly not prepared to do anything to force him to change course (e.g. as Rep. Kucinich keeps goading them to do). Instead, the Democratic leaders (including Speaker Pelosi and Majority leader Reid) and Republican leaders (including Boehner and McConnell) should hold a televised summit at which they pledge to the American people that they will enact legislation on at least one of the following before the ’08 election, or they’ll resign: comprehensive immigration reform, comprehensive health-care reform or comprehensive social-security reform!
Tabitha: Your worldview is international, indeed, and you have condensed the key elements of many complex news stories into easily comprehensible articles. Would you like to elaborate on this concept for us?
A. L. Hall: I believe that no matter how complex, no issue is (or should be made) incomprehensible. And I cannot abide blowhards who think the only thing anyone ever wants to hear about in their presence is the one thing about which they can talk ad nauseam. Likewise, I have little regard for encyclopedic nerds who can cite facts, but can’t express an opinion, about anything. My eclectic mix of articles reflects my general interests. And, if nothing else, I hope their comprehensive and comprehensible nature empowers readers to at least ask informed questions that others would least expect of them.
Tabitha: Since your books are essentially news commentaries, what is your favorite source for news?
A. L. Hall: Online newspapers. Not so long ago I used to think people who claimed to read several newspapers everyday were either liars or braggarts. But the Internet makes this so easy to do. For example, I take about 30 minutes in the morning to read a fair amount of at least 4-5 online newspapers, and then 10 minutes here and there throughout the day to read several others (and that includes their gossip columns).
Tabitha: If we surprised you by busting into your home or office, which cable news channel would we be most likely to catch you watching and why?
A. L. Hall: (LOL) At the office – C-SPAN: It’s occasionally informative, but most Washington law offices run it the way building managers run Muzak in elevators. I also try to schedule meetings around the midday re-broadcasts of Tavis Smiley and Charlie Rose on PBS. Both talk shows are terrific because they feature interviews with prominent politicians, CEOs, scientists, writers, entertainers, et al.
At home – (depending on the night) CBS (CSI - Las Vegas), FOX (24, House), NBC (Law and Order): In fact, I have precious little time to watch TV at home. But when I do, I prefer to be entertained, and these shows do that for me. And since I read news and editorials online, I steer clear of canned news programs and screaming talking heads on TV.
Tabitha: What sort of educational experience do you have, and is it relevant to your writing or the subject matter you have chosen?
A. L. Hall: BA- political economics; JD – international business transactions. And, I’m sure my formal education helps me to parse news reports on current events to distill what I consider most relevant and the proper perspective to have about them.
Tabitha: What about your work career? Has your choice of profession influenced your writing? Has one part of your varied career influenced your writing more than another part?
A. L. Hall: Well, perhaps holistically. But I’ve always been interested in current events. In fact, I consider sitting before my computer to write each night rather like visiting an intellectual spa…relative to my day job.
Tabitha: I find the cover of The iPINIONS Journal Vol. II to be simply elegant and eye-catching, a professional entrance to a serious book. Who exactly is the K. Kisovec noted for the cover graphic, and how much of the cover design was your own?
A. L. Hall: You have no idea how much I appreciate this question…. Because K. Kisovec has been the unqualified love of my life for the past 22 years. She is the person to whom I dedicated my first book. The cover graphic was entirely her creation, but it gives only a glimpse into her creative genius. Where she’s concerned, I am a fortunate man in so many respects!!!
Tabitha: Who is Mary to whom Volume II has been dedicated?
A. L. Hall: Mary is a very dear friend of many years. And, as a native of Haiti, she shares not only my Caribbean heritage but also my interest in issues that affect our region and the rest of the developing world. Indeed, she is one of the most dedicated readers of everything I write.
Tabitha: Did you consider other publishers before you selected iUniverse?
A. L. Hall: No. In fact, I never entertained the idea of publishing a book until the same ambitious (for me) friend who launched my blogging avocation brought up the idea of publishing my articles as a volume of contemporary history. And once I complied, she presented iUniverse as the most suitable publisher….
Tabitha: How satisfying has your experience with iUniverse been?
A. L. Hall: I should first say that POD publishing is a Godsend for aspiring authors. And this fact was brought into stark relief recently when an avid Jane Austen fan submitted manuscripts of her most successful novels, with literally no material changes, to 18 major book agents and publishers. Because, of the snobbish lot, only one had the elementary knowledge to recognize the submission as Austen’s. The rest simply rejected it as unworthy of publishing: How’s that for pride and prejudice?! Meanwhile, these same ignoramuses would no doubt salivate at the prospect of publishing Paris Hilton’s next tome on her simple life….
But I fear the thoroughly satisfying experience I enjoyed with iUniverse (in particular my PSA, Janet) on the first book may have spoiled me irretrievably. Because, quite frankly, the experience this time around left a great deal to be desired.
Tabitha: What is the most significant thing you have learned as a POD author? Do you have any advice to offer to new or prospective POD authors?
A. L. Hall: A professional proofreader is worth the investment!
Tabitha: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What genres do you like to read?
A. L. Hall: Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing consent; James Baldwin’sThe Fire Next Time; Wole Soyinka’s The Interpreters; V.S. Naipal’s A Bend in the River; Gore Vidal’s Live from Golgotha; and Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet. The genres I like best are non-fiction, biography and historical and philosophical novels. Although I like spy novels as well: John le Carre, Graham Greene, and Robert Ludlum.
Tabitha: What have you been reading lately?
A. L. Hall: I am currently reading The Man Who Ate Death by Mihajlo Pantic and The First American by Christopher Hardaker.
Tabitha: When and where will the next release by Anthony Livingston Hall be available? Will it be a continuance of The iPINIONS Journal?
A. L. Hall: I’ve actually been contacted by a non-POD publisher. So, we shall see. But, yes, I shall continue my chronicling of these our times in Vol. III and hope to complete the manuscript by March 2008.
Tabitha: What’s next for Anthony Livingston Hall, the writer?
A. L. Hall: Publishing daily commentaries, which I enjoy thinking makes established columnists look like slackers….
Tabitha: Do you have any final remarks to address to your readers or our audience?
A. L. Hall: Thank you for your interest. I truly appreciate your support.