August 12, 2009

Today was one of those rare transformative days. I recently finished final edits on The Honey Locust, my novel about the Bosnian war, due out next month from Cormorant. I played hookey and spent three hours on my bike listening to my iPod and riding around the east end. At one point, I stopped in a ravine to listen to the Bach cantata Ich Habe Genug ("I Have Enough"), with one of my favourite tenors, Ian Bostridge. I was utterly transported, to the point where I felt as though I was in 18th century Leipzig in the middle of an Alpine forest (my fantasies are nothing, if not elaborate.) It took me back to a similar moment that brought forth this particular book, many years ago. I was sitting on my back porch under a neighbour’s Honey locust and experienced a feeling of utter peace that was entirely foreign to my nature at the time. It was to become the basis for the last scene of the book even before I knew what the story was about, other than its underlying theme of personal redemption. Those two moments—fifteen years apart—have book-ended things for me, for it’s only now that the book has been fully realized in my eyes. The moment itself was very Goethe-Schiller-18th-century Romanticism, but I’d be a liar if I denied that my soul is steeped in that tradition, even if my current style is outwardly anti-romantic in nature.

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