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.
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?