Hugh Gilmore with a copy of his new novel, “Last Night on the Gorilla Tour.”

by Pete Mazzaccaro

On Friday, Feb. 22, Local columnist and author Hugh Gilmore will appear at the Musehouse, 7924 Germantown Ave., to give a reading of his new novel “Last Night on the Gorilla Tour.”

The event begins at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

The book is based in part on the real life story of a quirky adventurer and scientist named R.L. Garner who studied gorillas and monkeys and claimed to be able to speak to them. Much of his work is still part of the Smithsonian collection.

Gilmore said he first encountered Garner’s work when he was studying anthropology and doing field work in Africa and the Caribbean. Garner lived from 1948 to 1920, but part of his life held an odd biographical gap for which there was no explanation.

“It was interesting and intriguing,” Gilmore said. No one knew what had happened to him for a while. I decided it would be interesting to use him as a central character. I thought I’d write a book about him and explain for myself and readers, what happened to him on that day for which there was a biographical gap.”

The central conflict in the novel begins when Garner boards a train in Lynchburg, Va. and is soon asked by a young woman for help.

“He’s annoyed – he’s kind of charmed,” Gilmore said.”She’s a younger woman, and he’s in late middle age. He ends up saying yes when he should have said no.”

This is Gilmore’s second novel published in a year’s time. He also published a collection of short stories called “Scenes from a Bookshop.” He’s also published several short works through Amazon’s Kindle store.

Friday’s event is at the beginning of what Gilmore hopes will be a lengthy and productive promotional period for the book.

“It’s a wonderful feeling when you independently publish,” he said. “I just knew I’d have this book printed and my book launch by the end of February. It’s here now and I can begin promoting it and looking for readers. I love that aspect of independent publishing.”

The novel has just finally compelled him to join Facebook.

“Now I’m on Facebook,” he said. “Everyone says you have to be on Facebook. You can’t go around parking lots handing out cards. I don’t know if there’s a point when I’ll stop promoting.”

Asked about future plans, Gilmore said he’s got a lot more work to do. He’s working on a novel based on a bullfighter from the musical “Carmen” and another novel that takes place in a bookshop, all while he still operates his own bookselling business from home.

The novel is already available on Amazon, and Gilmore will have print copies of the work at this Friday’s book launch at Musehouse.

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