Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I haven't posted here much lately because I am writing hard on the novel, which is gradually becoming more consuming.  Maybe historical novels are like that, I mean more than other sorts of novels, thrillers or contemporary literary novels, because the writer becomes immersed in a world that no longer exists. I suppose this is why Henry James famously told his brother that historical novels were all humbug.  In a contemporary novel the writer is fed by experience and by what's going on at the moment.  The characters he creates have open futures, in a sense, and the pace is necessarily the pace of contemporary life, which is fast.

The past, however, was slow.  The novels of the past are slow reading.   The first problem of rendering the past for the modern reader hinges on how to deal with this pacing.  I feel like I'm slowing down in response, closing of, filtering the gush of information down to a trickle.  The second problem is how to avoid pastiche, while still reproducing the minds and speech patterns of the long-dead, in a lively way.  I have no idea if I am solving these problems.

I started this thing with a detailed outline, which is now largely abandoned. Writing is now like walking into a dark cave with a small light.  I'm always surprised by what comes up.  It's extremely enjoyable, though.  I've always loved history, read a lot of it from a boy, and making it live in fictional form is a treat.

There's the worry about whether it will come out right and whether it will be any good.  This is not idle worry, since my record at producing non-thriller adult novels stands at 0-1.  In any case, I seem to be committed to carrying this out.  I have about 200 pp. in the can, which may be half done or a third done--I can't really tell.  I like it, and it's amusing to write.   Perhaps that will have to do.

Meanwhile, I'm accumulating a list of ideas I want to post about and sooner or later I'll hit a gnarly patch in the fiction and I'll want to write non for a while.   It shouldn't take long.


Unknown said...

Has reading historical works helped you in writing this novel?

Michael said...

Mike- stumbled upon this blog and am delighted you are writing another novel. Will you be in NY this spring?Let us know...would like to get together.
Mike Franzblau said...

For sure. I have a whole stack of history books, and historical novels and diaries of the period as well.

Unknown said...

Mr. Gruber,
I've been a fan for quite a few years now and your books remain my gifts of choice for all holidays and birthdays. I just turned my girlfriend on to you with Book of Air and Shadows this past summer. Oddly enough, when I reached this site by Googling your name, the gentleman who introduced me to your writing was your previous commenter. So Hello to you Mike (and Molly) Franzblau, and to you Mr. Gruber I wish you great joy in finishing your novel an will, as usual, be picking it up on day one. And one for each of the people I know who love great books! Regards, Ben Enkler