A misconception that many readers have about my book and purpose in writing involves genre. Attending a mystery writer's conference and wearing that hat was lame a ruse to get the attention of an agent and I came out of my shell just long enough to realize that outside of the academies no one really cared. Forget the fact that K–– was part of an agency that represented Faulkner and Huxley, it is apparent that in changing the agency name the target market also shifted. I do not have the energy to deal with taste-makers and who those who find hooks in art.
Any yet... and yet... if the writing market does not raise an eyebrow at hard-fought prose, individual readers care. The same way I do when I encounter a writer with whom I connect. In the past year I have connected with Joseph Conrad, Erskine Childers, and Jonathan Franzen. (I tried to connect with Samuel Johnson and failed). I do not have the wherewithal to trawl the web in search of talent, but I am always hoping to come across that great unpublished talent. The cloud novelist, a conceit that (at least in this blog) is approaching reality.
The point of Arisugawa Park, with its indecipherable and yet distinctly Japanese title, is not an accurate portrayal of the country––the purported duty of writers who set their tales in foreign climes. We can read authors such as Alan Furst to gain details, if that is what we are after, of the trappings of the time––presented to expand technical knowledge and create a vision in the mind that hearkens back to classic representations. A realistic tableau that seems formulaic in its essence.
That is not what I am after. I want the reader of Arisugawa Park to feel a bit of discomfort in his or her life, an awakening, just as I did at the moment at which I set the story. Though inertia took me back to the States and a last concerted attempt at office-bound livelihood.
The thing is, I have lived abroad, traveled for many years, interacted with people from many cultures, and observed. What I am really trying to tie together in AP is not a sense of Japan, but a sense of possibility within a world in which all seems to have been explored (is this is what the algorithms and bombardment of fake news have tricked us into thinking?) The dumbing down process is nearly complete, but for a few bastions––the sheer numbers of people with half the story (or less) and purporting to know all is astounding. The sheer number of clicks at bait and the diminishing recompense that follows.
In a sense my signpost for Arisugawa Park is Kafka's Amerika, which I found to be not a great work per se but compelling in the freedom he allowed himself, long before magical realism was a thing, to create a serious novel that was purely his own imaging of a place. Oh, and to name the "hard k" title after that conceit, which seemed to detail individual reaction against the emergent bureaucratic underpinnings of fascism.
Arisugawa Park is about that moment when one loses tether to a specific country-defined moral code and starts thinking for oneself. Personal evolution, on either side of the wall. Trying to pretend the wall doesn't exist. Failing that, gaining inertia to take some kind of action.
Thanks for reading and continuing to read and may this ultimately earn me the wherewithal to turn my attention to Cowachunga, which I have been mulling, and lacking the time and space to put into action, for two years now.
Or let the Fabric Dos music project be the breakthrough and let the readers follow as they may. The few who find their way here and share with one or two friends is enough.