Friday, November 25, 2016

Cutting My Teeth at Diamond Tooth Gertie's

When I arrived in the Yukon, it was late August.

I had that past October, still enrolled in school, been invited to participate in a tradition of the Drama Department - the Brown Bag Theatre, Halloween edition. To that end, I’d memorized "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe. Some months, and many miles later, I arrived in the Klondike and, as I was standing outside the general store - which was pretty much the only store in all of Dawson City, a small town in the Klondike with Gold Rush charms - I saw a handbill posted for a Talent Show at the local casino, a place called Diamond Tooth Gertie’s. There were cash prizes, which was a great incentive for me, since I was nearly penniless, and homeless in a land that would soon become freezing, deadly cold. When I looked to see when the talent show was to be held, however, I realized it was that very night!

So off I went to the library (a library I would, in the following months, get to know very well) where I found a copy of "The Raven" which I then photocopied. This was 1996; there were no iPads, no smart phones, and only in the coming months of that dark Yukon winter did I begin to learn, within the safe confines of that library, how to surf on the first tides of the information tsunami that is the Internet.

"The Raven" was a bit of an odd choice, one might have argued, considering the lively venue - but it was the only thing I could commit to memory in such a short time. In fact, most of the rhythmic, poetic, horror story was still in my memory banks. I just had to jog my memory, really. After rehearsing for a few hours, I went and signed up.

Performing to a casino crowd was quite different than to the silent and attentive audiences from my previous experiences onstage. I watched the acts I had to follow, and the raucous gamblers who were only half-listening. When it was my turn, I said with some confidence to the stage-hand that I didn't need the mic because I was capable of projecting to an auditorium. He insisted I take the mic, and it was probably well that he did.

I went on, and spoke as if I too longed for Lenore. I had some inkling of what that was like, since I'd just had my heart broken - probably the main reason I hit the road and left school in the first place. But then something happened - the stage-hand interrupted me halfway through the poem for some technical reason. He called out to me from offstage, and when I broke character to give him an inquiring look, he waved it off, and so I struggled to find my place and start back in. This was the first time I ever lost my place in front of a crowd. My cheeks flushed hot, and I was filled with a mixture of anger and embarrassment.

Once my performance was finished, I left the theatre in a bit of a huff. I felt like any actor must feel when his act is botched by some fool who didn't have a valid reason for cutting in: I was furious. Also I felt a fool for even trying. It hadn't seemed like the audience had been paying much attention at all.

The next day I was flagged down in the streets of Dawson by the Talent Show Coordinator, who chanced to be about. He was a giant of a man - tall and beaming and full of happy purpose, reminding me of one of the teachers I had a good report with back in the school which I had just dropped out of.

At any rate, despite the interruption, I must have done fairly well, as this beaming man announced to me that I'd won second place in the Talent Show and received $125. He paid me in the local currency: casino chips from Gertie's which I discovered could be used to buy myself some much-needed food.

-excerpt from my Autobiography, "Ink, Knives, & Kink"

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Last Unicorn - A Review

The Last Unicorn
by Peter S. Beagle

A Magical Tale with Magical Ties


The Context


            The first and only person I ever fell in love with is a witch who put a spell on me.

            Sixteen years later, the spell she wove is still at work on me. Magic broke my heart, and magic I know will also mend it; my recent reading of The Last Unicorn is clearly part of the process.

            I have already written enough poetry about her so I will not describe her; but I will say that she was wild and she was beautiful. One evening as we lay together we watched the animated movie entitled The Last Unicorn. She told me she liked the talking cat the most.

            I didn't know that the story was originally a book; I didn't know a lot of things back then. My ignorance lasted until just a few weeks ago when I was laying on the carpeted floor of my sister's study, getting lumbar relief from being hunched over a keyboard late into the night, and saw that among the many books on the shelves sat one whose appearance intrigued me: it was a hardcover with no jacket, and its spine was so rubbed as to be nearly illegible.

            It belongs not to my sister, but her husband – an avid reader whose collection of literature dwarfs my own my no small measure. I plucked the worn book from the shelf, delighted with the discovery. I took it to bed with me and read the first chapter as my eyes cranked towards sleep and my mind was riding the line between dream and delirium. I got as far as page 11 before I read a single sentence describing a blundering butterfly and I knew that I was hooked:


            He glimmered like a scrap of owl-light on her horn.


            She being, of course, the unicorn.

            I know that blessings come to us, seemingly serendipitous, at exactly the right time that we need them in our lives, if we are open to them. I've had books on my own shelves for years that I haven't yet read; and when I do get around to them, it will be at the exact right time, and when I am precisely at the right stage so that they can get around to me.

            We live within a story; most people don't realize this; and magic does exist, but presents itself to those that believe in it. The Last Unicorn, like other artful creations that came before, is a book that is changing me: I am transmuting into what I am meant to be.

            That is perhaps the highest praise I can give it.


The Story


            First and foremost, The Last Unicorn is a fairy tale, and an entirely successful one in that it functions both as literary entertainment, and as a catalytic fable. This is a great book for young adults and children, but its depth and mystique appeals also to mature readers; like the unicorn itself, it has a sparkle that draws the eye, but a spark of immortal truth that only the truest heart can approach.

            Simply, the tale recounts the journey taken by a unicorn who learns she is the last of her kind; her blissful ignorance is shattered and she leaves her enchanted forest to search for her kin. It is a simple adventure on the surface, but it plumbs great depths that are murky and complex. It is extremely well-crafted, with just the right hints dropped at the beginning to give the unicorn her impetus, and the reader their interest.


Right Ons & Write Offs


            The story has few faults and much worth. Its tone is playful yet its language is serene. Early on, it is obvious Peter S. Beagle is a master wordsmith, and I really get excited when I encounter text that is succinct and rich. Here are two exemplary passages describing King Haggard's land as well as the effect the unicorn has on those who travel with her – something that is summed up by the third passage, a quote from Prince Lir who wishes to win her heart once she has transformed into her human form.


1.         The land had grown leaner day by day as they traveled on, and the faces of the folk they met had grown bitter with the brown grass; but to the unicorn's eyes Molly was becoming a softer country, full of pools and caves, where old flowers came burning out of the ground.


2.         Bony birds struggled across the sky, screeling, “Helpme, helpme, helpme!” and small black shapes bobbled at the lightless windows of King Haggard's castle. A wet, slow smell found the Unicorn. “Where is the Bull?” she asked.


3.         “But what's left on earth that I haven't tried?” Prince Lir demanded. “I have swum four rivers, each in full flood and none less than a mile wide. I have climbed seven mountains never before climbed, slept three nights in the Marsh of the Hanged Men, and walked alive out of that forest where the flowers burn the eyes and the nightingales sing poison. I have ended my betrothal to the princess I had agreed to marry – and if you don't think that was a heroic deed, you don't know her mother...”


            The only criticisms I have for The Last Unicorn is that I did not always care for the modern references (judo is mentioned, for example, as well as the A train – inventions that struck me as out of place) and the lifted lines from Shakespeare and Carroll (a butterfly quotes King Lear saying “Blow, wind, and crack your cheeks!”) which is forgivable once you learn that the butterfly repeats only scraps of songs and poetry that it picks up in its wandering; but it still snagged me out of the story for a moment. Some readers would probably like this sort of thing, though – but I believe that unless it's clear they are quoting the work of another, a writer should omit such things.

            It was also somewhat unclear what drives the human characters – but this does not seem to detract much from the story. Schmendrick declares his usefulness when he implores the unicorn to let him tag along, but one never really understands why he feels compelled to do so. Molly, which they meet later, doesn't even ask to join their quest – she just hops on board.

            Usually characters aren't believable if their actions happen without proper cause; but in The Last Unicorn, one can imagine that simple proximity to the unicorn could be motive enough. Indeed, creatures of all kinds are drawn to her.

            Those that accompany the unicorn, Schmendrick the magician and Molly Grue, are the only two humans who can recognize her for what she is, and in so doing perhaps they acknowledge that they have reentered the stories of their own lives: both are members of disreputable bands before they meet the unicorn, making the best of their miserable lots. Schmendrick even professes to the unicorn that they are in a fairy tale:


            “You're in the story with the rest of us now, and you must go with it, whether you will or no. If you want to find your people, if you want to become a unicorn again, then you must follow the fairy tale to King Haggard's castle, and wherever else it chooses to take you. The story cannot end without a princess.”


The Theme


            The theme appears to be transformation or, more accurately, growth. In Haggard's land nothing grows, and so nothing changes. He is the opposite force of the unicorn: she never changes but remains immortal so that everything about her might grow and flourish; Haggard seems ageless and endures while all under his dominion withers and wastes away.

            Of course all stories need growth for their characters, and this is perhaps little fare for thematic enthusiasts. To elaborate then: this is not just a story consolidating the need for cultivation, it is a blueprint for growth. Haggard's lands are blighted because he doesn't care about anything; the unicorn cares for everything but has no compulsion to understand why. They both lack direction and vision; both of them stayed in their domains where neither grew, not until they were drawn together by the story to receive their reckoning.

            What is the vision they lacked?

            What else could it be but Love?


The Characters


There are five principal characters in this story, or perhaps six, maybe as many as seven: it all depends on how you look at it:


1.         The Last Unicorn/The Lady Amalthea


            A rare and seldom-seen creature of infinite beauty, living in an undying forest, unaware that it is the last of its kind. In some ways it is very easy for you to relate to her: when she learns by chance that all other unicorns are gone from the world, she is compelled to leave her home and begin her search. In other ways, she is impossible to relate to, as an angel would be:


            “The unicorn said nothing, and Schmendrick raised his head and stared at her in a strange way. A gray morning rain was beginning to fall, and she shone through it like a dolphin. “No,” she said, answering his eyes. “I can never regret.”


            The author is quite crafty in how he gives the last unicorn her story's arc, and he even cleverly includes many hints about this in the text – for a unicorn cannot grow to love or regret as humans can. She is the impetus of the fairy tale, but not truly included in it until she is transformed into her human form: the Lady Amalthea (or, as I like to call her, the Lazy Amnesiac, for she nearly forgets everything about her former shape and present quest). This is the point where the story turns and begins to delve into real depths, for what better way to present existential dilemmas than by placing upon a unicorn the curse of becoming human?


2.         Schmendrick the Magician


            Although he does portray many heroic qualities, Schmendrick is not the hero of this story – and he knows it. He is closest to the Author's Voice than anything else, as if Beagle longed himself to be closer to the unicorn and so wrote himself into the tale in the guise of this bungling but vastly self-aware magician. It is Schmendrick who relays much information to both reader and unicorn in his way of holding forth easily all the pertinent details that need to be presented. Also, perhaps Schmendrick's endless struggle to find the magic in himself is reflective of the Author's driving need to escort the unicorn in his alter ego toward the end of her story – a struggle that many writers can relate to.

            Schmendrick is kind and wise, but you're never sure if he is full of bullsh*t (unlike the Red Bull himself who seems to be full of nothing but piss and vinegar) or if he really knows his stuff. This plays out perfectly, once you learn his secret. There is much more to Schmendrick than meets the eye, as it should be with every magician. In fact, his first actions in the story are rather villainous, as he captures the unicorn in a cage for Mommy Fortuna's Midnight Carnival; but he quickly redeems himself by setting her free again, although not without botching a number of spells in the attempt.


3.         Molly Grue


            Imagine a virginal maiden who never got to see a unicorn until it was too late.

            Molly's back story, and her purpose in this story, are the most unclear of anyone's. All we know about her is that she has become joyless and jaded by a hard life full of bitter disappointments. She is the result of King Haggard's ruin, for she has been deprived of her right. We pity Molly most of all, with her blistered feet and raggedy hair, and we are led to love her as she softens in the presence of the unicorn. The most important detail about her is that she is the only one the unicorn permits to touch her.

            At first, I believed that she was created mainly as a foil for Schmendrick; but now I think she is also the Voice of the Reader, screaming to Schmendrick (the Author) when the unicorn is in danger: “Do something! Save her!” In this, she is always true, because she never loses sight of what is righteous in their quest – unlike Schmendrick, who is often muddled in his thinking and full of doubts as he tries to figure out how exactly they are meant to execute the fulfillment of the quest.


4.         Prince Lir


            Prince Lir is the Fool you see on the Tarot Card at the lip of the precipice, about to go over the edge of the cliff, with the little dog yapping at his heels. Like Schmendrick and Molly, you are not sure what to make of Prince Lir at first; but he, like the others, makes the choice to change, going from slob to soldier, from heralded hero to heartbroken hopeful. The catalyst for this is of course the unicorn:


            He had made up his mind, as he explained to Molly Grue in the scullery that evening, nevermore to trouble the Lady Amalthea with his attentions, but to live quietly in the thought of her, serving her ardently until his lonely death, but seeking neither her company, her admiration, nor her love.


            In Prince Lir we see the point driven home: that all who encounter the unicorn, epitome of beauty, are inspired to become the best and most beautiful of themselves. All but the last:


5.         King Haggard & the Red Bull


            It is clear that these two creatures are thematically one and the same – but what are they?

            It is never said that King Haggard is a wizard. In fact, until he replaces him with Schmendrick, Haggard employs his own magician. He also hired (but never paid) a witch to create his accursed castle on the cliff by the sullen sea.

            Yet Haggard is powerful. He lords over fallow lands, and he commands the Red Bull. He appears at times nearly omniscient, and with the Red Bull acting as his nebulous but surely malicious will, he sometimes also appears omnipotent.

            Haggard is like a god, a greedy god that can never be satisfied. He is one who made the Wrong Choice, as all villains essentially are. He chose not to love the unicorns but to try to possess them. He reached out for what he lusted after, and because of it he choked out his own life, and the life of the lands under his dominion.

            The enigmatic aura of both the raging Red Bull and the haggard King Haggard suit them well, and make them scary as hell.


The Conclusion


            This is a magical book – a rare sort of story in which anything can and does happen. Nearly everything is able to speak, not just the unicorn: there is a talking cat, and a bumbling butterfly, and a speaking skull. The refreshing thing about the way these characters are written is that they are not overly anthropomorphized, and it is clear the author was careful about this. The cat says:


            “Of course I know. Of course it would be simpler for me to show you. But I am a cat, and no cat anywhere ever gave anyone a straight answer.”


            It is successful in its tone and style, which is simple and direct, as any good fairy tale should be, but it is also poetic and this allows it to perform its primary function: to convey wisdom to both young readers, who already know the truth but lack the words to express it, and to older readers who have found the words but have perhaps forgotten the truth.

            It gets from me the highest possible rating I can give it. I would like to keep this copy if I can, and here is the reason: as I read it, I spotted halfway through a librarian's stamp.

            Even though I presently live in Montreal and I borrowed the book from my sister's husband in Ottawa, the library from which this edition had been withdrawn is my hometown which lies about four hundred miles to the west. This is no coincidence. Just as it is no coincidence that the other book I was reading at the same time (which also came just when I needed it) declared at its conclusion that there are two modalities for conscious living, which was summed up in words that I have used myself:

            Live in fear, or live in love.

            Is it possible that the one I love held this decommissioned library book once in her hands?            The Last Unicorn is a gift that I have received well, for I can tell you this:

            Love too is a gift; and whenever we embrace it, magic happens.





Friday, June 24, 2016

Review of The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

The Neverending Story is the story of a neverending cycle of bullying.

Bastian is a “fat, useless, cowardly” boy of ten who is unfortunately granted near-omnipotence when he enters Fantastica. Instantly, he begins to go mad with power, moved by his lust for certain things which ten-year-old boys should probably never acquire.

                The first half of the Story is a simple fantasy romp for the most part – rich and highly imaginative – at least until Gmork begins to rasp out his final words, which are pretty dark and sobering. The first half of the Story is also what those of us who’ve only known the film version (up till now) think of as The Neverending Story, but there is a brilliant second half that delivers thematic devices that are both deep and intrinsic to the vision of the author, Michael Ende – who incidentally disowned the film entirely and demanded his name not be associated with it. Perhaps he felt he’d been lied to.

                Lies are a major plot device in the Story, although they are so insidious and pervasive that it is hard to imagine what one can do to thwart them.

The werewolf Gmork counsels the adventurer Atreyu about the awful journey he must undertake if he truly wishes to visit the human world: he must succumb to the Nothing, the awful cancer eating away at Fantastica, and enter the human world transformed into one more in a pack of Lies. This is what Fantasticans – beings of pure fantasy – become if they come into the human world via the Nothing: a lie.

                The Nothing is a symbol of our human negligence, as Fantastica is sustained only by human imagination. In our modern lives, we place very little value on imaginative thinking beyond what it brings us for our idle entertainment, or our commercial endeavours, and as such we are deprived of meaningful lives.

                Atreyu, on the other hand, is the opposite, and so he represents everything we like to see in a male role model: he is brave and honest and caring. He was raised by a hunting tribe community, and has deep, meaningful connections with all the elements of his world.

Bastian, his mirror image and human counterpart, is weak and cut off, a lonely victim of mass bullying – doled out not just by his peers, but from his teachers, too, who jeer at him. The moral of the Story is laid on thick here, iterating the vital importance of fantasies and imagination for our spiritual development.

                Grow up, the Story tells us, but, paradoxically, we must accomplish this by staying young at heart. What I discovered in that second half of the Story is a tale of innocence lost and then painstakingly regained. It counsels us to preserve our sense of childlike wonder and love – and this is represented by the oldest and wisest being in Fantastica, its heart and soul: the Childlike Empress.

                Bastian, in his desire to finally be loved and admired, begins instantly to abuse his powers and to willingly forget his duty, which is to return with what he has learned. Only then can he work to undo the many lies that have flooded the human world from Fantastica and repair the damaged relationship between the two inter-connected worlds. He gives in to the temptation to stay and have his every whim and wish fulfilled, much like we in our hedonistic, consumer culture like to do. In other words, he lies to himself and tells himself that he is entitled to whatever pleases him because he is human.

                Bastian changes his features so that he is now a handsome prince; he wishes to be strong and admired and wise – and all these too come to pass. Yet Bastian does see how he has been marked by his fear, crippled by it. This is the curse of the bullied, for at the critical juncture, when Bastian is called upon by the Childlike Empress – who is beyond a doubt communicating to him from within the book he is reading, locked away in an attic – he shies away because he feels unworthy. In his own world, after all, Bastian is a pariah and a joke.

                The curse that bullying bestows upon its victims – a curse I myself am encumbered with – is an ugly duckling complex (if I can be permitted to mix fairy tales momentarily; I think such things are permitted at least in Fantastica). What they never tell you about ugly ducklings is that – long after they see their own swan-like beauty reflected in the waters – they continue at all times to feel ugly and unlovable, for they are helpless to believe anything else. They believe the lies of others before they can believe in the truth.

                Bastian’s reinvention of himself is a fantasy we all like to entertain – how we would look if we were slimmer or more attractive. Yet the cost of this turns out to be the loss not only of his memory and identity, but his compassion as well. Casting that aside is a dangerous affair for Bastian, who nearly dooms himself by declaring himself the Emperor of Fantastica, setting himself up to usurp the Childlike Empress that he himself had only just saved.

Given absolute power, Bastian turns into a monstrosity – but it’s hard not to feel there was no other course for him to take. It’s a twisted path, and the stakes get ridiculously high at the end, but once he perceives the perils he escaped due to Atreyu’s intervention, he goes on and perseveres like a true hero. In a sense, all his folly is really just a series of training sessions for him to become aware, and ennobled. His wishes almost seemed designed to backfire and strip him of everything he’s created for himself so that he can learn real wisdom, to see through the lies and get to the truth.

His wishes arise naturally within him and are impossible to defend against. At one point, Bastian wishes not only to be admired, but feared – and later on he begins issuing commands to his friends and followers as if he is their leader, showing him as a ten-year-old tyrant. When Bastian’s wish to be feared and obeyed as a commander arises, it’s clear that he is reacting to how he’d been abused and teased by the bullies at his school. He is becoming drunk on the same power, and this was based on his choice not to return home, but to try to erase his old, unpopular self of which he was made to feel so ashamed.

So he is drawn by his awful wish to the witch, Xayide, who is the biggest bully in all of Fantastica. She nearly succeeds in turning Bastian into her empty-headed pawn. He is swiftly corrupted in a Lord-of-the-Flies-kind-of-way, to the point where he breaks his promise and draws the heroic sword Sikanda against its will, to deliver a deadly blow to the adversary who has risen up against him, for his own good. This is none other than his erstwhile and spurned friend, Atreyu.

Bastian’s journey towards wisdom is a hard one, and he comes dangerously close to losing his mind entirely and ending up just another demented Old Emperor. He confronts all the mistakes that he made: the misery of the Acharis, and the aftermath of the clownish Shlamoofs, as well as the destructive wake of the dragon, Smerg, which Bastian narrates into existence in order to give the depressed knight errant Hynreck a driving and renewed purpose.

All of these are his whimsical inventions, story elements he wishes into being in Fantastica, because he is a human and that is his right and power; but none of them turn out very well in the end, and seem to backfire on him in one way or another. So there is a very strong theme of responsibility. Absolute power may corrupt absolutely, but is there no such thing as absolute redemption?

This is the question the Story is putting to everyone who reads it: will you succumb to the Lies, or will you be united with those who know and seek the Truth?

                To me, Atreyu and Fantastica clearly represent community and solidarity, while the humans in the Story – Bastian, Carl, and Bastian’s father – are all isolated, cut off, and bound in frozen blocks of ice. Stories are what can bind us together to help us form better communities – not just the stories we invent, but the stories of our lives. The two truly are intertwined.

                We, like Bastian, must learn how to craft these stories into the most artfully woven creations we can make up with our dreams, wishes, and fantasies.


Rating: 5 out of 5

Inserted in my Top 10 Fantasy Books of All Time!


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis - a mini review

The Silver Chair - book 6 in The Chronicles of Narnia - is a story about duplicity and identity in which the heroes gripe and groan while the villains laugh and sing. 

The major theme appears to be that we are given the choice every day about which of our two natures we wish to be: good or bad. The two children protagonists - Jill Pole and Eustace Scrubb - often behave badly or bratty, while the villains are all smiling and charming, such as the King and Queen of the Gentle Giants or the Green Witch. 

Prince Rilian behaves as both villain and hero, and in a clever twist his true nature is revealed when we first encounter the titular Silver Chair. Poor Rilian isn't given the choice about which of his two halves he gets to be - and he only gets to be free of his bad side when he's tied up by the Witch and allowed to be good for a short time every night. Sounds kinky...

Like Rilian, we are bound to our bad habits when we succumb to our base natures - and it is only by the grace of God - or Aslan - that we can be set free to pursue our better selves. Even if God - or Aslan - isn't real, the belief in Him is a useful fiction that does far more good than harm. Or does it?

A moral compass is a fine thing to have and if God exists, He is like the magnetic force that will always reveal the true north; but in reality many atrocities have been conducted in the name of God. As a gay man and a free thinker, I know how easily any religion can become like a Bermuda Triangle that confounds our compass and puts us at risk of becoming lost for good. 

I value the wisdom of any prophet - whether they are divinely conceived or inspired, or have simply become wise because they opted for sensitivity, compassion, and creativity, thus becoming the noblest version of themselves possible. C. S. Lewis stands among the best of them. 

Favourite Story Moments: Puddleglum's pessimism and Eeyore-like sayings. He's the real hero of the story because he alone resists the Green Witch. He's used to putting a good face on things so he chooses to believe in Aslan even when the others have given in to doubt. Also I loved the threat and danger of the Green Witch's insidious spell work. 

Least Favourite Moments: When Jill, Eustace, and Caspian are sent by Aslan on a sanctioned crusade to whip and beat the schoolyard bullies of Experiment House. And I felt shortchanged by the origins of the Green Witch; since the White Witch has such a compelling backstory, I was let down when I learned that the Green Witch just slithered down from the North. 

Rating: 4 of 5 

Friday, April 27, 2012

My Mission Statement

Mission Statement

            I have for many years now been on a quest for Truth.

            In my youth, this took the form of a journey: I packed a bag and hit the road. I left school, gave up everything. Assuming another name, I lived abroad where no one I knew could find me. I put my hand out, and it was filled; the Truth came to me.

            I did not want to live a life that had no direction. I did not want to quake and quail before that which terrified me. I sought the ways of becoming strong and honourable, and found them in only one place: in stories.

            Who among us hasn’t been caught up in the magic of a well-told tale? Or who hasn’t been inspired to achieve their goals, once they’ve read the real-life stories of people who’ve done exactly that?

After reading Fight Club, I burned down a house.
After reading Neverwhere, I leapt off the Sellwood Bridge.
            After reading Jitterbug Perfume, I hitch-hiked to New Orleans.

I believe that my life is a story, and I intend to tell it well. I expect to struggle and suffer, but also to rejoice - as does every hero, in all the myths that were crafted to guide us and instruct us. I endeavor to become the best version of myself that I can be.

My novels are attempts to create real mythic literature; by writing of faraway, make-believe worlds that are filled with wonder and mysterious powers, I’m able to share the insights that I’ve gained, by giving them also to my characters.

In Last Knight, I explore the desire of a young man to become a knight in the modern world, searching for Excalibur in our own time. What makes a man noble? How does he learn to be courageous? Without any role models, without exemplars, how can any of us find ourselves, lost as we are?

The Sylvan Song was written in a blaze of wit and rum: I gave myself the exercise to write ten pages a day, to complete a novel of a hundred pages in a mere ten days. Each day I feared writer’s block; and each day I marveled as the story emerged, speaking to me of Love, and Destiny.
             I have a vision of a world filled with people who are uplifted by the Truth. I invite you to share what I have learned in my travels, both literal and literary. My stories are bound to my own story, and to know them is also to know me.
              That is why I write.

First Entry

This is the first entry of a new blog.

I'm hoping I will find more motivation with this blog than I have in the past. It seems that inspiration for such things is short-lived, and one has to come to rely on diligence after an initial period of prolific posting.

My name is Phin Scardaw. Recently I have self-published two fantasy novels with a company based in Raleigh, North Carolina, called Lulu. The purpose of this blog is to advance my career as an author and to promote my work with sophisticated readers.

Here I shall be posting news about my progress as a publisher of my own writing, reviews of work that impresses me including films and books both contemporary and classical, and some of the compositions of opinion and wit that I feel the need to share.