Body and Blood: A Novel of Linked Stories

Philip Russell

Published by Bkmk Pr/Umkc, 1998
ISBN 10: 1886157154 / ISBN 13: 9781886157156
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Synopsis: Body and Blood is a novel of linked stories set in Northern New England. Through the vehicles of fate and destiny, these stories trace the relationships of two young couples, through their fight to find their way back to themselves, though not necessarily back to each other.

From the Publisher: In preparation for the July 1998 release of this book, we had many opportunities for conversation with Philip Russell. Following is a bit of some of our more interesting notes.

BkMk: "In your own life you've built a house and hiked mountains, among other activities, some of which figures, to varying degrees of importance, in Body and Blood. This is a question all authors must eventually face, but how do your own life experiences translate into your writing?"

Russell: "For me they provide the emotion, the heart feeling that informs the story. And often they suggest details that lend verisimilitude to the fiction. But that's about it. Generally one can't depend on life experiences to provide anything like plot or character. And worse, their historical truths are forever getting in the way of the story's truths.

Certainly all fiction ultimately derives from one's life, but life is more than experience. Fiction derives from thought and imagination, too--from the unexperienced, from what one has only glimpsed, or merely heard of, maybe read about, or dreamed of."

BkMk: "Comment on how your experiences enabled you to create the very strong characters that people this book."

Russell: "To a large extent the characters created themselves over time. I worked on this book for more than five years, and gradually the characters assumed their own lives. They became as real as real people. It got to the point where I began to dream about them. I remember the day the voice of Alice Bourne came through to me, and what a breakthrough that was, her voice in my head. And I remember coming across a photograph in a magazine one day and realizing I was looking at her, I was seeing Alice Bourne. And then came the early mornings when I would go down to my study and she would be already there, Alice Bourne, waiting.

It wasn't always pleasant."

BkMk: "Many people find the transition from short story writing to novel writing to be difficult, to say the least. Yet here you've combined, quite successfully, both forms. Can you speak about that?"

Russell: "Body and Blood began as a handful of stories with common characters and concerns and at first it seemed entirely natural and organic to link them together--a chain of events, similar to life, beads on a string. But toward the end the form became impossibly confining, and the needs of the stories worked against the needs of the novel--the constant epiphanies and conclusions seriously impeded the overall narrative drive. The linkages were demanding, confining, and with each story it became harder to achieve completeness within the self-contained piece without becoming redundant in the overall text. It got to the point where there was no room to move at all. It was like trying to swim with your feet encased in cement. I promised myself I'd never write in that genre again.

But two years later I'm 250 pages into my second book and it, too, is a novel of linked stories. I tried so hard to avoid that. Solo Practice is perhaps slightly more novelistic than Body and Blood, but there still seems to be a need for self-containment and closure with each chapter or story--three of the chapters have been published now as stories. Maybe it has something to do with the way my life is--all these compartments--father, writer, dentist. I don't know."

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Bibliographic Details

Title: Body and Blood: A Novel of Linked Stories
Publisher: Bkmk Pr/Umkc
Publication Date: 1998
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Good

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