Monday, July 16, 2012

"Dick" -- the Rise and Fall

When last we heard from Gavin Sinclair, the Scotsman from Dundee was a double threat. He had appeared on the big screen in "The Patriot" as Valet #2, a silent attendant upon Tom Wilkinson's General Cornwallis, and written a painfully funny book about idiocies in business -- "The Management Secrets of T. John Dick" -- under the name Augustus Gump. You might even consider him a triple threat, as he founded Mainland Press in Conover in order to publish it.

Eleven years later, the aptly named Peter Principle has been proven; T.J. has risen to the head of SuperPumps through a series of bizarre accidents, and he might be the only person capable of foiling a plan to destroy the company. "The Rise and Fall of T. John Dick" introduces a mostly new cast of characters, and it's in the same class as the first: not so stinging a satire, but better constructed as a story. The sequel also has bizarre elements of Shakespeare's "Macbeth:" A weird woman prophecies T.J.'s rise, after he unseats his predecessor; his wife schemes to keep him atop his new empire, even when murder may be necessary; he uses a publicity firm dubbed Birnham Wood. (And, more than ever, TJ's a dunce, inane.)

Sinclair had a little flurry of excitement after people found his first book on Amazon. A Hollywood producer's office called to ask questions, though that led nowhere. Then, he says, "the book was optioned for a movie by an aspiring English producer, but he couldn't raise the money, and it petered out. I knew it was a long shot when I arranged to meet him at the American Film Market in Santa Monica. My budget only stretched to the local youth hostel and, while I was checking in, I heard a familiar voice and saw him checking in next to me."

So the adventures of T.J. remain a boutique item, though an enjoyable one. Sinclair the publisher has picked up another title: Wille Thompson's "Scratch Golfer," about business shenanigans and a weekend golfer's realization that he's playing this last round for his very soul. (The devil is sometimes called Old Scratch, so the title couldn't be more apt.) If you buy these three books at, you can take a 20 percent discount off the online price at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and you'll get free shipping. (Another reason to visit the site: Sinclair has posted a list of classic books of English humor that inspired him.)

P.S. If you see the book's cover, you may wonder who posed for the photograph of T.J. It's a computer-generated effort tweaked by Sinclair. No top business executive could ever look that idiotic -- or could he?


Augustus Gump said...

Thanks for the kind words, Lawrence. There's also a Facebook page at for anyone who's interested.

Anonymous said...

T. John changed my life. He is a true mentor for anyone wanting to excel or even use Excel in the business world. I keep the book on my desk for daily insight and have been climbing the ladder ever since. Just hope I don't jump when I reach the top!
H. Cinder