The Author’s Perspective on his Writing, October, 2009


I worked as a doctor in a small city of the northern Midwest for almost thirty years.   As most of my former colleagues will attest, it’s a very interesting and very intense line of work.  I finished my first novel, titled THE COST OF DREAMS, about a year and a half before my retirement.   Anticipating that I would have a difficult first winter psychologically after I quit (and I certainly did), I wanted a job waiting for me off-stage, wary of just winging it after I walked out the door.   Almost no matter the reception the book receives, I am very happy to have the work.  It is also very interesting, but not so intense as my former job.

If I may quote Jane Smiley from 13 WAYS OF LOOKING AT THE NOVEL, “What is difficult is not to write something new but to write something interesting and true.  As any piece becomes interesting and true, it becomes original.”

I attempted keeping to that little dictum as I assembled THE COST OF DREAMS, a tale about a family living in the downtrodden strata of humankind, about half of the planet’s inhabitants of whom are striving to survive on $2 a day.  Not infrequently, I would see such persons in my former job, from the USA and from around the world, much in need of healthcare attention, and little or no means of obtaining it.  The dignity with which so many strove for a decent life forever moved and impressed me.

We do not live in a just or healthy social order.  And believing as I do that social problems have social roots (as opposed to say religious roots or stemming exclusively from individual personal failings), I decided to tell tales in that context, as “interesting and true” as I am capable.

I want to do four more novels.  The next will be set in New Orleans at the time of Katrina, a human cataclysm of such immense historical importance and consequence, we are incapable of measuring it today.  By rights, the events of that summer should produce a few hundred “interesting and true” tales.  I will attempt to find the thread of one of them, peopled with persons and families striving with their measure of dignity for survival and a better life, with their federal onlookers flying over and standing by.

The third book will be set in Detroit, the epicenter of America’s industrial collapse.  Formerly, it was a city in which workers had the highest standard of living anywhere in the US.  This October, fifty thousand souls showed up at a housing agency, seeking assistance available for three thousand.

As to novels that will follow, I must keep my options open and remain attentive to the events in the human community.

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