The novel began with another story and a moment.
The first was the story, The Nine Avenues. The short story comprises three distinct sections about unnamed men driving down, a trunk road. Each man, each story, is connected by a different angle and relationship. The first man is distressed, fleeing from something; the second man is bitter and unhappy with his, presumed, wife; the third is a boy, riding in the back of a car while his father drives and his mother, sitting next to her husband exchanges ordinary everyday talk. The boy observes the landscape and his parents and speculates on his life as a mature man.
How, precisely or even mechanically, the narratives in The Nine Avenues link to each other is not immediately clear, not even to me. In my mind, any link is similar to that of a musical composition whereby seemingly incompatible harmonic elements connect through chord progressions and, as such, each element coheres to the whole.
Around the time that The Nine Avenues was written there were news stories about people who had suffered great loss. This was not long after the financial crisis when there frequent stories of vaporised expectations. Many people had lost their security and had been betrayed. Financial losses and strained circumstances are one type of burden; the particular news stories that echoed with me were more essential.
“It was my good fortune to be deported to Auschwitz…” is how Primo Levi started his preface to If This is a Man. The opening causes a strained smile, an acceptance of the terrible things that can occur, of how people can overcome them, or, as Levi explains; how he learned more about himself and humanity in all its forms, in the camp.
These thoughts stayed with me for several months and then, later, gelled into ideas. The real consideration is how to make something into a book: an idea is a start, but not generally enough in itself, and there is much more to develop. That part takes time and a blank page and pencil to make notes, drawing lines between thoughts and crossing out dead ends.
©Copyright Guy Cranswick 2015. All Rights Reserved.