Was I wrong to cite the Quartet?

Searching for Franklin

Searching for Franklin: New Light on History’s Greatest Arctic Disaster

Was I wrong? That is the question. Whenever I publish a book, I revise my business card, putting the new opus on the front. Over the course of a year, I must hand out, what? ten or twelve of these cards?

That’s my idea of effective advertising. Highlight the new book in all things.

But this time, when I revised the card, instead of maintaining an exclusive focus, I indicated that Searching for Franklin is part of The Arctic Discovery Quartet.

It’s a stand-alone, I tell you!

This idea of the quartet derives from my unruly youth, and specifically to one long-ago summer that Sheena and I spent in a Laurentian cabin overlooking Lac Provost. Still in my twenties, I was going to write my first novel. Ernest Hemingway did it. Leonard Cohen. Why not moi?

For the record, I did produce a 300-page manuscript. At least I had the sense to bury the thing so deeply that nobody will ever find it.

Anyway, while I wrote, I read voraciously . . . and The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell knocked me out. I hasten to add that, because it is so grotesquely overwritten, I have never been able to reread it.

Never mind. Because the architecture! The structure, which Durrell saw as archetypal, still excites me. Justine tells a story. Balthazar tells that same story from a different, almost opposing perspective.  Mountolive presents more of an overview, situating the story within a larger context. Finally, Clea sheds new light from a future time.

Well, as I wrote Searching for Franklin, all this came back to me. And I realized that while I was indeed writing a stand-alone – it’s a stand-alone, I tell you! — I was also, incidentally, writing a final volume in a quartet.

The other three books

True, this is my sixth exploration narrative. But taken together, four of the six constitute an Arctic Discovery Quartet unified and structured along the lines suggested by Durrell: Fatal Passage, Lady Franklin’s Revenge, Dead Reckoning, and Searching for Franklin. See for yourself.

Maybe, in designing my new business card at Vistaprint.ca, I would have been wise to ignore that realization. Instead, as you can see from the flip side of the card, I doubled down . . . . and provided images of the other three books.

Was I wrong to do so? That is the question. Does that more inclusive approach undermine my main objective? What do you think?



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