I LOVE FRANCE
And maybe you do too!
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The Fall of Icarus
The Fall of Icarus
(Fantasy/Magic Realism/Short Stories)
Release date: March 31, 2015 at NR Bates Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9931905-6-8 (mobi)
ISBN: 978-0-9931905-7-5 (epub)
ISBN: 978-0-9931905-8-2 (print)
Three interconnected short-stories set in Paris explore the issue of choice, survival and transformation. In the first story, a young man on his first business trip is waylaid by an aberrant elevator. In the pivotal tale, a young scientist re-imagines the Greek myth of Icarus and his fall to earth. In the final story, a young woman who cannot recall her own name relates the fantastical tale of a girl who can fly.
GUEST-POST BY THE AUTHOR
The focal point of these three connected short stories in the book “The Fall of Icarus” is its namesake tale. The story can be read simply as a modern retelling of the Greek myth of Daedalus and his son Icarus, but it can also be read as a brief exegesis on escapism and survival. It’s a pivotal tale inspired in part by the immense Pablo Picasso mural, The Fall of Icarus, mounted on a concrete wall, just inside the security entrance to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) building in Paris, along the tree-lined Avenue de Suffren. I first visited the building many years ago as a participant in a science meeting hosted by the organization—and I have returned to its familiarity every few years. It’s a wonderful opportunity to wander through the transient and changing exhibits of art and culture, and humanity housed within.
The curvilinear, three armed wings of the UNESCO building comprises a layercake of offices that sit firmly upon the supports of brutish concrete pillars that are enclosed within the openness of the glass enclosed loggia of the ground floor. This architectural starkness is interrupted by discretely located sculptures and the infusion of light and reflections from the gardens and residential buildings on the other side of the boulevard. It always seems to be cloudy and gray when I visit—always in winter—and I have to imagine the setting in spring and summer. I always stop to spy upon, from the warmth behind glass, the Henry Moore sculpture and its foundations sitting upon the flat grass of the roof garden. It seems lonely except for the determined smokers that venture out to brave the elements for a few minutes.
I returned again to Paris and the UNESCO building in December 2014. Once again I sat on the lengthy bench to contemplate the Picasso mural and perhaps some of its deeper meanings. This time I studied the painting with a writer’s eye. In the panels of the mural, Icarus falls out of the sky—burned through flesh to his bones—seemingly ignored by the bystanders bathing on a beach. The dread of warfare and personal sacrifice seemed clear to me in these brushstrokes. Once I returned home, within weeks, the three interconnected stories tumbled out.
The Fall of Icarus was an experiment for me—both in form and in point of view. I wrote in the first person for the first time and it was a joy to try to capture the perspectives of three different characters responding to memories and moments in time. It was also a great excuse to suffuse these tales with a deeply embedded love of France, its landscapes, its people and its culture. My parents lived in Paris as a young couple—not yet burdened with children. Afterwards, as a teacher, my father had long summer holidays and we spent our lazy time camping across France. From the age of about nine or ten, I became enamoured with the beauty of the country. France impressed me at a young age and its lure took hold. Childhood holidays in France were an idyll—certainly! Memories of straight, tree-lined roads in the dry flat countryside of summer; the lazy flow of the Gard River beneath its Roman acqueduct; the rocky beaches and Gaelic festival on top of the mountain in Brittany; the standing stones of Carnac; the Pompidou Centre in Paris, and the tall cypresses of the Mediterranean landscape—amongst the myriad, vivid recollections. Later on as an adult, reading Down and Out in London and Paris by George Orwell did not dim my affections. But I am glad that the mythologies of childhood have remained with me despite the stark realities and contrasts of modern life.
So I hope that you enjoy these brief tales that are enveloped in the cloak of Paris and France.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
NR Bates was born in London, grew up in Wales, and lived in Canada and Bermuda. He shares his life with his wife and his house with seven cats, one dog and the subtropical wildlife of lizards, wolf spiders and ant colonies that seek out a better life indoors. He is an oceanographer and scientist, and has published more than one hundred and thirty scientific papers on ocean chemistry, climate change and ocean acidification. He is a Senior Scientist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and Professor of Ocean Biogeochemistry at the University of Southampton, UK. His novels focus on epic fantasy and magic realism, and inspired by his deep love of the ocean and environmental sciences.
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