Friday, October 24, 2003

Gabriel García Márquez said Life is not what one has lived, but what one remembers and how one chooses to tell it.

I'm not Gabriel García Márquez or even Agatha Christie. But I had a sister Aga once who hooked me on folklore stories, even folk dancing, as well as stories written by characters like Gabriel and Christie.
Aga like no one else I have ever known understood that life on this earth was a hard bastard. At 22 Aga (you must be over 12 years old to read this story) had even trouble drawing breath. Breathing is painful when you are diagnosed with leukemia. The paradigm is the girl whose throat is filled with toxic elements and she is not even able to cry for help.
What story does one tell after you happen to say final goodbye to your 22 years old sister when you are barely 17? After such an experience escaping across the Iron Curtain is not such an impossible dream.
My ordinary story entitled Cold River takes many leaves from Agatha Christie’s novels. Deep inside me I seem to understand so well Burkean conservatism which was meaningfully expressed by Agatha: justice rarely comes from the state, but from civil society – a private detective, a clever old spinster. I admit I do not have the skills to reach as deep as Agatha. My writing does not do justice to my hows and whys feelings in those mysterious regions of my heart. What words and notions should be used to describe how it took ordinary boys to demolish one of the last great communist taboos: crossing the forbidden Iron Curtain.
Many readers know that in Christie and Burke’s worlds wisdom resides in the very old and the very ordinary. Thirst for truth and freedom is a dynamic force, and a dynamic force is a very dangerous thing.
In ‘Destination Unknown’, (subtitle of my second book taking place in exile; which is still in roughish draft version) a communistic scientific community turns out to be a veil for a crazed megalomaniac.
Her protagonists stand, novel after novel, against those who seek to disrupt the natural order and interpret the world with a misleading ‘rationalism’. As one of her heroes explains, We’re humble-minded men. We don’t expect to save the world, only pick up one or two broken pieces and remove a spanner or two when it’s jamming up the works. Or, as another heroine asks, Isn’t muddle a better breeding ground for kindliness and individuality than a world order that’s imposed? There is a clear natural order it is only disrupted by greed, wickedness or misguided political ambition.
Unlike Agatha I am not a Mistress of Words. At a soft whisper they gave up to her their hidden properties, their magic powers! However, like Agatha, I have learned to appreciate the simple things in life -- an encouraging email from a reader who almost deleted my story half way through the book, but now has read it three times...
Around one hundred publishers rejected my story, but I stood my ground. There are conspiracies that this blog is just a devious plan to double traffic on Double Dragon Publishing (as if dragons needed it :*). I thought I was simply linking soulful stories: at times, my email feels more like I dropped a hand grenade into a political hornet's nest.
· Work-in-Progress: Muddling through revisions [Saloon: Mr Michael Orthofer, Managing Editor, at The Complete Review ]