Song of Attica

I must confess that I do not know where to begin. I am, after all, no storyteller.

If I start with the two of them, revealing to you the astounding connection that once bound them to one another, elixir and poison to them both, and explain how such a magnificent thing could occur in dark and cynical times when so much cries out against the possibility of truest, most noble and soulfelt love, then you will think me a hopeless romantic, poised to tell yet another hackneyed story about two young lovers who endure against impossible odds, triumph over the forces of evil, and live blissfully together forever after.

Alas, as much as I might wish it to be so, this is not that story.

If I begin with the wager–which might be the most helpful place to start, since some say it’s what got us into this mess in the first place–then I fear that you will read what has been recorded here as if it is a throwback to the allegories of the distant past, a thinly disguised treatise on all that is wrong with our modern world, full of object lessons for us all, delivered to us through the complicated narrative of two well-written but transparently fictional characters whose story is far too fantastical to make a difference in the lives most folks lead these days.

That would be not only inaccurate but also patently unfair, to them and to you.

And if I open with the squabbles amongst the gods themselves, reminding you of their epic stories from so long ago, recounting the small slights that became unforgivable transgressions and created interminable chaos in both the mortal and immortal realms for thousands of years, you might well object that the ancient gods are cultural relics who have nothing to do with your life, not in real terms, not in a way that defines who you are, why you live your life as you do, or what your own destiny might be.

And that conclusion would be a tragic contradiction to my reasons for breaking my silence in the first place.

So, I must start squarely in media res–in the middle of things–although at first glance you may think I am beginning at the beginning. We all have our preconceptions about beginnings, middles, and ends, about what they should look like and how they should proceed. For example, I used to be certain that the point where our narrative begins was actually well past the end of this story. For those who already know parts of this tale, it might seem as if I am beginning long before the story ever started, but that would be wrong too. And at the point where our narrative concludes, some will complain that this story ends long before it is truly over.

Perhaps the problem lies in thinking of time as linear. It isn’t, nor has it ever been, which is why speaking of the beginning, middle, and end of our story is utterly nonsensical. Such points do not exist on circles, lemniscates, or spheres. Never have. Never will.

Our story begins now.

*****

These are the opening lines from my first novel, Song of Attica. It’s the story of Ryan Baird, a disgruntled classics professor whose tantalizing art museum encounters with Darva Kairos, an enigmatic and captivating young artist, lead to the discovery that the Greek gods of classical antiquity are not only quite real and alive but also in desperate need of his help. Soon, though, Ryan’s hometown is abuzz with news of the grisly murder of Ryan’s mentor, an act of vengeance that Ryan knows is linked to a mysterious gift Darva has given to Ryan. As he struggles to sort out the reasons for this murder and Darva’s simultaneous disappearance, Ryan discovers not only that his destiny lies in confronting the gods with a long-buried secret but also that the survival of the world itself depends on Ryan’s ability to overcome a devastating betrayal from the ancient Greek past.

Mingling the mysteries of the Homeric epics with the embedded puzzles of Baroque and Renaissance painting, Ryan’s story is narrated by a shadowy but playful presence, one who claims to have known and watched Ryan’s life spool out since his birth. She peppers her account with interludes about the gods, keys that unlock the doors to the labyrinth of Ryan’s perplexing destiny and Darva’s own curious path, while also revealing their mutual connection to the ancient world.

Although Song of Attica is ostensibly a work of fiction, it also employs footnotes and numerous references to actual, real-world events occurring simultaneous to the action of the story, effectively blurring the boundaries between the real and the imagined in much the same way that our greatest myths have always done. Song of Attica may initially appear to be an unconventional reluctant hero story with a twist, yet it proves to be so much more than that. Or as one reviewer recently described it, “[It is] a great love story that shows us how ALL love stories are, in many ways, driven by divine forces….We’re talking about gods and mortals, love, the death of the soul, the revival of the soul, the greatest myths of our times, modern and ancient, art, truth, beauty, music, Giza, friendship, temptations, creativity, academia, and the universe vs. one man.”

The novel will resonate with those who enjoyed Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind, Nicole Krauss’s The History of Love, and Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, with the occasional nod to the boundary blurring of documentary and fiction so masterfully presented in Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves.

Song of Attica is agency-represented and currently seeking a publisher. Serious inquiries about the novel are welcome.

All text on this page is © 2008-2017 by Eric Plaag and may not be reproduced or redistributed in any form without written permission.

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