Born in 1952, former musician Rex Bartlett recalls how he and his partner Cynthia Barefoot went to live on the tiny island of St. Helena, located halfway between Africa and South America, where Napoleon died. They bought an abandoned house site unseen, lacking plumbing, electricity and telephone. His self-published memoir is Curious Little World. It's his first book. According to publicity materials, "In the past, Rex has written post-cards and shopping lists."

Among his claims to fame, Bartlett was once Neil Young's paperboy when he was growing up in Winnipeg. As a budding musician, he traveled with a friend to buy guitar strings in Hibbing, Minnesota, Bob Dylan's birthplace, hoping the strings would bring them luck in their new band: "But just outside of Hibbing, we rounded a curve in the highway and approached a huge banner strung across the road. The sign didn't say, "Welcome to Hibbing, Bob Dylan's Hometown" like it should. Instead it said, "Welcome to Hibbing, World's Largest Open Pit Iron Mine." I knew right then that I had been wrong. The sign was a sign. Well, obviously the sign was a sign. Anyone could see that the sign was a sign, but I could see that the sign was an omen. The silver strings would not bring us fame. They would hold no magic. I stared at the vast obscene open pit iron mine and realized that my piercing Joan-of-Arc-sy vision had been nothing more than a post-Klik hallucination. Chastened and humiliated, we returned to the Winnie-The-Pooh Capital of the World."


Curious Little World: A Self-Imposed Exile on St. Helena Island (Gabriola Island: Toppermost Books, 2007). $21.95 978-0-978-3927-0-3 P.O Box 319 Gabriola Island, BC V0R 1X0

[BCBW 2008] "Travel" "Humour"