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GLENN'S BOOKS

sustenance cover

Sustenance

Paperback, 233 pages, A5 format. Published by G.P. Martin. Released July 2011.
ISBN 978 1 2570589 0 7

$AU19.95 + postage (Australia). Purchase using Paypal: click "Add to cart" button below.

Purchasers outside Australia can purchase through Lulu.

 

In a few words.....

Patrick is given a message from the I Ching about freeing himself from fate. So he takes a new job, working with unemployed youth. His search for sustenance brings trouble, but also wisdom and love, as he seeks to work creatively and ethically in an organisation where the inept and the self-serving often hold sway.

From the back cover.....

Patrick begins under a cloud of gloom, rejected by his girlfriend and unsure of his occupation. But an encounter with an old Chinese man gives him a message of hope – his fate is his to create if he is willing to let go of things as they are. So he begins again elsewhere, finding a job working with unemployed youth. But the simple search for sustenance can lead into vexing terrain. How will he relate to the sadness, anger and disillusionment of the young people? How will he respond to the sexuality of a co-worker? And how will he deal with the people on the management committee – the self-serving, the brutal, the scheming and the inept?

The gift the old man gave him, the I Ching, stands by him as he strives to establish peace and purpose in his work, and find a woman who will love him. Amid the chaos, he learns:

I am not the master of the universe
but I come from bliss
and that way I serve all-that-is.

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The author talks about the book.....

This is my second novel, written, like The Ten Thousand Things, within a time frame, and essentially based on real events in my life. I wrote it as a story because it enabled me to avoid being pedantic about details that no longer matter, and to preserve the anonymity of people. And if I also tell you that there are fictional elements, then I am saying that the story has to be taken generically. It could have happened in many another place and time, and with any number of other people.

Should I apologise for writing the book in a fixed time frame? I wrote it as part of National Novel Writing Month (NanoWrimo), an international event in which over 160,000 people participate each year in November. I didn't quite finish my story in one month; it took me seven weeks in all. But then, in essence, it was done. I didn't spend another year agonising over it and rewriting it. The story was told, and that was that.

And no, I have no apology to make about my approach. At the same time, I don't recommend it as a method. I would say, "You have to be ready". Otherwise, as they say, "Don't try this at home".

Once I'd started, it meant that every day I had to come back again to the computer and commit to the next part of the story. And there are always a million ways the next part of the story can be told, and each way leads you somewhere different. Even though notionally you know what the end-point is, you might never get there. So that's the experience; nothing is settled, and you still have to create the story. The characters also wrestled with my memory of them and at times wanted to act differently, and I sometimes responded and loosened the reins, and followed the tale where it led.

Nevertheless, some might object to my calling it a novel, when I also say it is essentially based on fact. One suggestion was that I call it a memoir. But I thought of that, and rejected it. I am not musing over my past in an effort to have you muse over my past. Nor I am not pointing to the idiosyncrasy of my experiences. When I say it is a novel, I am signalling that this is a live story. What happens here could happen today, around the corner. So how Patrick thinks and acts is relevant to me - and you, the reader - now, in a way that a memoir might struggle to be.

This is a personal story, and it is also a business novel. It is a story about people and managers in organisations. My point is, becoming a good manager is a personal undertaking that requires you to examine your values, and especially your ethical values. It is not simply a question of acquiring a set of skills in organising things and dealing with people. I think many managers still wish this were not so, but to be a good manager will invariably call upon you to be your best self.

Reviews and reactions

Sustenance is an excellent novel, portraying the life journeys of many varied and interesting people. It is a wide-ranging narrative, set within a colourful landscape of human endeavours and life experiences. It also offers valuable teachings, reflections and commentary – on life in a rural town, ethics, professional development and the striving for positive outcomes. The gift of the I Ching is shared for the benefit of all. Sustenance is a novel which will delight.

– Wayne Bleakley, HR practitioner