Gaspar Redux

E.S. KraayEarlier this week, a good man I know approached me in church and said, “I just finished your book Gaspar.  Great book for this time of year.”  Although the book begins in ancient India, the protagonist makes his way to ancient Ireland and concludes his lifelong quest for truth in ancient Judea during the Passover.  He is intimately involved with the passion of Jesus.  As Christendom celebrates Holy Week next week, I am certain that is the connection the reader makes.

Shortly after Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ was published, it was brought to my attention that there were many typographical errors throughout the book.  I can’t say whether I was more embarrassed or more displeased.  In either event, I spent recent months rereading the book and correcting the errors I could identify.  I regret to admit that I found 58 errors.  I take personal responsibility and apologize for that.  While I cannot pull the printed book, yesterday, I replaced the original file on Kindle – the file uploaded by the publisher in 2014.  While the new electronic edition may not be as aesthetically appealing as the original, I can assure you with certainty that it more accurately presents the original manuscript.

If you have considered reading Gaspar, this may be a good time to do it.  Having just finished another reread, I am pleased with the story and its message.  My ‘collaborators’ characterize my prose as ‘sparse.’  They offer that observation in a good way, much like one might call Hemingway’s prose as ‘sparse.’  Don’t think I am comparing myself to Hemingway.  I would never be so bold.

As an example of my ‘sparseness,’ my ‘Last Supper’ is not a congenial ‘Da Vinci’ painting, and I address it in four, simple paragraphs …

“Raised voices of repressed anger rumble above us.  Heavy footsteps, perhaps a scuffle.  A chair grinds the floor, another falls heavily.  Footsteps to the doorway, then down the steps outside.  A figure halts and stares into the room, probably not expecting to see us.  The man’s hair and eyes are dark, indecision and worry etched into the lines on his brow, so deep that they are shadowed.  He turns and takes a step toward the stairway, maybe thinking to return.

“He takes his head in his hands as if holding it together.  He is in pain, more mental than physical.  His anguish is visible in every drop of sweat that falls from his forehead.  “Damn him.  Damn them all,” he whispers under his breath.  He runs into the street and disappears into the night.

“More footsteps above us.  Someone standing on the balcony calls into the darknesss with a restrained and husky voice, “Judas, Judas.  Please come back.”

“But Judas, if that was his name is gone.”

Throughout my life, I have been drawn to Judas Iscariot.  I do not paint him as a villain in my book.  If you read Gaspar, you will find that I view Pontius Pilate in a positive light as well, a man who does everything he can to save who he believes is a guiltless and inspired man.

During this special time of year, I invite you to skip the chocolate rabbits and read Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ.

On another note, 48 hours from now, I will be touching down in Port-au-Prince, Haiti where I will join Tony Sanneh and his Haitian Initiative Team.  If the electricity and Internet hold up in Port-au-Prince, I plan to post daily updates on my sister site, The Vitruvian Man.  See you there, and thanks for your continued support.

“The Comedians”

In February, I wrote about my collaborators, those robust writers with whom I meet at oh-dark-thirty every Monday for two hours to share our respective musings.  One has at least two, 1,000-word pieces ready to include in her anthology.  I can’t wait to announce it.  The other is moving forward at a reckless pace on a complex and dark story that is fearless in its approach to contemporary issues that many of us are inclined to ignore except in the privacy of our electronic readers.  I am indebted to both whose wordsmithing I listen to with envy of Gollum!

With my collaborators’ encouragement, I have been forging ahead – dare I say at a feverish pace – on two manuscripts, one historical, the other quirky.  For the next two weeks, however, I will tilt my pen in a different direction.

One week from today, I will return to Haiti, that dark and mysterious Caribbean Isle, once home to the infamous Papa Doc Duvalier, the island which lays claim to voodoo.

You can follow my journey on our sister site, The Vitruvian Man.

Forty-five years ago, I traveled to Haiti to experience first-hand what I wrote in a paper I submitted as a senior in college, The Influence of Voodoo on the Political System of Haiti.  Last year, I was drawn back to Haiti by my friends at The Sanneh Foundation.  When I told my friend Tod Herskovitz that I would be pleased to go back, he recommended that I read Graham Greene’s novel The Comedians.  I took Tod at his word and am finishing the final chapters before I depart for Port-au-Prince on Palm Sunday.

Graham GreeneI enjoy the novel immensely, and as I read it, I recall my own experience in Haiti in 1971, not long after Greene constructs his novel.  I offer The Comedians today as a novel that can help any writer with ‘dialogue.’  One of my collaborators is currently reading Cormac McCarthy’s classic Blood Meridian.  McCarthy paints with descriptive prose.  Greene paints no less effectively in The Comedians with dialogue.

If you are a writer looking for direction on constructing and developing dialogue, I encourage you to read The Comedians by Graham Greene.