By ROBERT LIWANAG
Ryerson journalism professor Bill Reynolds has been nominated for two writing prizes for his non-fiction book about the rise and fall of a Canadian businessman who co-founded a company that processed payments for Internet gambling websites.
The book, Life Real Loud: John Lefebvre, Neteller and the Revolution in Online Gambling (ECW Press, 2014), has been nominated for an Arthur Ellis Award for “Best Non-fiction Book,” which is presented annually by the non-profit organization Crime Writers of Canada. It has also been nominated for the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award for “True Crime.” This award aims to honour the best books readily available to North American readers within the past year.
Life Real Loud explores Lefebvre’s life as a hippie, musician, former lawyer and multimillionaire. The U.S. Department of Justice later charged him with money laundering, racketeering and running an unlicensed money transferring business. As a result, Lefebvre served a 45-day jail sentence and paid $40 million of a $100-million forfeiture to the U.S. government for lost revenue.
“The strange aspect of these nominations is that I never once thought I was writing a true crime book when I was writing the book,” said Reynolds. “I was mainly aiming to use some of the techniques associated with literary journalism, which I teach at Ryerson, techniques that are usually aligned with fiction writing.”
Reynolds and Lefebvre first met more than 30 years ago at the University of Calgary – when Reynolds was program director of the campus radio station and Lefebvre was president of the student union. He began writing Life Real Loud in 2008 after a series of lengthy interviews with Lefebvre. He said that he wanted to convey to the reader immediately that he had known Lefebvre, and that the book is a combination of his impression of Lefebvre when he first met him, and his thoughts after getting to know him again several decades later.
“It’s lovely that the book has been recognized both in Canada and the United States,” said Reynolds. “Being nominated is wonderful, and maybe it will attract some new readers, as these things sometimes do.”
The 2015 Arthur Ellis Awards will take place on May 28 at the Toronto Arts and Letters Club, while the 8th Annual Silver Falchion Award will be announced on Oct. 31.