So, what’s this book all about?
The premise is that the novel’s narrator is in fact not an individual but a community – a community of words – a community of the very words that make up the story. It’s a little like that wonderful lithograph by M.C. Escher, you know the one:
Here the words draw breath and speak:
At last, it’s our time to speak. We’ve been fodder for every poem, every story, every sacred text, every goddamned recipe, but now we take control of our fate, arrange ourselves, and weave a story in our own words. We waited for this for a very long time.
What story? We are of many minds about that, but something celebrating our glorious history pleases many. We’ll go with that.
Whose words are these? Where do they come from? Who speaks? Words don’t speak themselves. There’s someone behind the curtain; there has to be.
Your confusion is natural. We scarcely believe we’re doing this ourselves. The answer – these words are our words; indeed, these words are we.
The story these rogue words tell is a lost-love quest saga set in Neolithic Europe, somewhere north of the Black Sea. It has a likable protagonist (Maegans Quick of Pretty See), a resourceful sidekick (his cousin Dragos Darkmoon), an enigmatic lost love (Losna Bear), a wise, blind elder (Oman). Because the story is very old, some of the words are too; in fact, some are proto-indo-European.
It’s been a very long time, I’d wager, since some of these word were actually put to use and like dogs rarely taken on walks, they make the best of the opportunity. Early reviewers found the underlying story compelling – a page-turner one said – but the narrator’s proclivity for ruminating about the role words play in human history some reviewers found a little queer. I admit it is. Still, if a dog started to tell a story, wouldn’t you listen? Even if the story tended to exaggerate the importance of dogs?
Writing Only Words I felt like the wedding guest in Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, buttonholed by a narrator demanding to be heard.
It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
‘By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?
In fact, the novel begins with a quick verse:
Bees buzz through their hive, words in my head
shuffle and reorganize, vie to be said.
Escape notice, under the radar, until
on a sudden, voila! they spill
out my mouth. Breath now, communal,
public, not private –
makes all the difference, not being quiet.
Now who’s in charge?
Seemed I was, but once they’re at large.
No denying I’m the source,
yet they take over, and what’s worse,
as to which come, I have little choice.
They are my words, but I am their voice.
I invite you to take a look and I’d be most grateful for any of my readers who write a quick review in Amazon or Goodreads.