Monday, December 28, 2009


One of the secondary characters in 'This Side of Paradise' is a young poet named Thomas Parke D’Invilliers. Fitzgerald uses a quotation from one of D’Invilliers’ poems as the epigraph to' The Great Gatsby'. ‘Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her; If you can bounce high, bounce for her too, Till she cry “Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover, I must have you!” ’ This reference and playfulness I find very appealing.
I am fascinated by epigraphs and their relation to the work, as well as to the creator of the work. In fact when I get a new book I like to read all the pages at the front, and sometimes back, before I begin reading the text. It is sometimes possible to discover therein little gestures and clues. Not only epigraphs, but dedications also are doorways of a kind into the book, and also into the mind, heart, life and mood of the author.
For my own books I usually have an epigraph, or even two or three. One of these will nearly always be a quotation from a writer called Carrillo Mean, a shadowy character who appears in most of my novels and some of my short stories. In my first novel 'Cherry Ripe' he does not appear in the epigraphs, but in the acknowledgements. The novel quotes from one of his books, and so he is acknowledged as the author of ‘Igneous Intrusions in Southern Tasmania.’
The second novel is ‘The Bluebird CafĂ©’, where Carrillo is a significant character in the narrative, and here the first epigraph is by another member of his family, Phoenix Mean. The second epigraph is from Faust: ‘In the beginning was Meaning.’ I am fond of Carrillo’s words that appear as the epigraph to ‘The Common Rat’ (collection of short fiction): ‘Rats, they’re only human.’
And so he goes on. His epigraph to my new novel ‘Child of the Twilight’ is: ‘Assisted Reproductive Technology tells the modern love story of Romeo Spermatozoon and Juliet Oocyte.’ This is from his work 'Creation in the Time of Twilight'.

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