Friday, August 16, 2019

"Chimes of a Lost Cathedral"

Janet Fitch is an American author and teacher of fiction writing.

She is the author of the #1 national bestseller White Oleander, a novel translated into 24 languages, an Oprah Book Club book and the basis of a feature film, Paint It Black, also widely translated and made into a 2017 film, and an epic novel of the Russian Revolution, The Revolution of Marina M.

The journey that began with The Revolution of Marina M. concludes in Fitch's new novel, Chimes of a Lost Cathedral, in which passionate young poet, lover, and idealist Marina Makarova emerges as a woman in full during the transformative years of the Russian Revolution. Having undergone unimaginable hardship, she’s now at the height of her creative power and understanding, living the shared life of poetry--when the revolution finally reveals its true direction for the future.

Fitch applied the Page 69 Test to Chimes of a Lost Cathedral and reported the following:
Page 69 is a classic reversal of fortune in Chimes of a Lost Cathedral. Very representative. My character, Marina Makarova, a young poet, pregnant and adrift in the countryside in Civil War Russia, living in a relationship of convenience in a railroad town—has just reunited with her radical poet husband Genya Kuriakin, the commander of the Bolshevik agit-train Red October:
We had hard-bitten Bolshevik politicals, we had actors and journalists. And everyone was enlivened with determination, even vision. Hope unfurled like a flag—now I remembered it. No longer was I sidelined in Tikhvin or Ionia or East Mudhole, Wretched Hut Oblast, I was back on the train of the revolution, from which I’d somehow fallen, hauled aboard by Genya’s strong hand. So many things had come between us, I thought as I slept tucked under his chin in his compartment, listening to the song of the rails, clickety-clack... my life’s nightmare turn, the months at Ionia, my tenure as the barefoot bride—yet somehow I had risen, again breathing the shocking air of the Future, like Persephone walking into the sunshine after her months in the underworld, blinking to find that color had returned to the earth...

Genya, my Genya, sweet. Pulling me aboard his life just as he had in 1917. And away we rode, hurtling across Russia toward the front, where the civil war raged. Was I afraid? I was more afraid of Styopa, of the Tikhvin Women’s Club, dirt of a stalled mediocrity filling my mouth, packing my nostrils, muddying my eyes, as I disappeared into the ground. Our sailors and soldiers gave me strength... Racing across the green fields on the agit-train, I felt free. Like some crazy giantess, I could stand astride continents. I needn’t cut myself down to fit Styopa’s bedrame any longer.
Page 69 very much represents the passion with which Marina throws herself into the world, her deep craving to live freely, her embrace of the revolution and the idea of the Future. But it also represents her weakness from an ideological point of view—she is an emotional revolutionary, not a programmatic one. The politicals on the train see her very much as a ‘fellow-traveler’—Genya’s pregnant wife, a liability. But for the moment, she is quite characteristically filled with joy and with hope. She is someone for whom ‘settling,’ living a backwater life, makes her feel buried alive—the Persephone theme recurs throughout the book. This is her spring, but it will be winter again.
Visit Janet Fitch's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Revolution of Marina M..

My Book, The Movie: Chimes of a Lost Cathedral.

--Marshal Zeringue