I have been fortunate in the three months since launching the book to participate in a number of writing discussions, interviews, readings, forums, etc. A pleasant surprise from those experiences is the degree of thought and introspection it required of me to answer certain questions about the novel. That sounds strange since I wrote it—and perhaps it may just be a matter of me needing to offer up something better than, Just because to answer why I omitted quotation marks or chose not to translate the Italian—but these questions encouraged me to dig deeper into the how I told the story and not just what the story was about. And honestly, it was just great fun, like being a student again in a way.
Back when I was a student, however, time spent pondering over the many symbolic interpretations of style, device, or storytelling seemed wasted to me and was often a discussion I always felt inadequately prepared for in class—as if I had read some entirely different passage than everyone else. I could not get past the perceived futility in trying to guess, for instance, whether or not in writing about a great white whale, the author (Melville) was actually writing about elusive goals, or was it to him just a fishing story of the one that got away (not likely).
But now having written a couple of novels of my own, I can appreciate these discussions with greater understanding and appreciation for the idea that it’s not only possible but probable that the author them self could not have grasped all of the supposed symbolism in their work. And that actually makes perfect sense to me. How often are we met in our daily lives with moments that mean something more to us simply because we can relate it to a greater whole. Often, right. I believe it’s that way with writing a novel, too. Writers are working hard to present this perfect vision they have in their minds, sentence by sentence, scene by scene, and it is only after they are finished that they can step back and put some distance between those various parts and look at the whole to visualize how they connect to one another, even something as un-relatable as choosing to not translate a foreign language, or the omission of quotation marks.
One of the most difficult things of growing old is the regret for not doing or being something different than who we were. I enjoy talking about literature and books and contemplating how they make you think and relate the story in someway to your own life, your own tiny piece of humanity. Those days sitting in a classroom would not be wasted, for sure.
This rambling on does have a point and it’s this: As in most literature, after reading this book there will be questions that arise. What happened after? Before? Why this and not that? And so on and so forth. I could give my perspective as the author, and have before, but some of the pleasure and purpose to reading is to relate this world to your own, to discover and share in some common ground. To force the deeper question. With that in mind I’ve spent the last few days putting together a Reader’s Guide for the novel. You can find it to the right of here, just click to download. It, too, may be a work in process as ideas come to me about the book, but if you’re interested in connecting with the story in a more meaningful way, I hope it will serve as a good start.