For my debut novel, Graphic Times, I drew upon my three decades of experience as a newspaper reporter, a career that instilled in me a duty to report only the “facts.” But with that experience came the realization that facts are not always what they seem.
For example, I recall one news story that involved a claim by some local Catholics that an image of the Virgin Mary had appeared in the bark of an urban tree. To them, what they saw was in “fact” a miracle.
In Graphic Times, a murderer - and a brilliant scholar - claims he has experienced a glorious vision of the Virgin Mary in an enormous century plant, an agave (top, right), in the Arizona Desert. When a discredited Times reporter and his spiky photographer investigate, they discover that facts, like miracles, can be as ephemeral as Henry David Thoreau asserted in his admontion: “Read not the Times; Read the Eternities.”
The figure on the cover of Graphic Times (center, right) is Kokopelli, a mysterious flute player whose image was etched on rock formations throughout the Southwest more than a thousand years ago. He has become a ubiquitous symbol for the mythology and mysticism of that region.
The Sunbeam automobile mentioned in the novel, like the red Alpine IV (center, right) that I spent years restoring, is a classic British roadster with a rich tradition in literature and movies. Grace Kelly took Cary Grant on a harrowing drive in an older model in the movie To Catch a Thief. Elizabeth Taylor died in an Alpine in her Academy Award winning performance in Butterfield 8, a disappointing adaptation of one of the great early John O’Hara novels. An Alpine was the only Bond car specifically identified by Ian Fleming and the very first Bond car in the movie Dr. No. Arnold Schwarzenegger demolished one in Commando. And who can forget Maxwell Smart’s red Sunbeam in Get Smart?
Graphic Times is dedicated to Sylvia Kronstadt, who was the love of my life, as well as a brilliant writer and editor. Her provocative blog, Kronstantinople, chronicled many of the amazing episodes of her life, her deep and enduring passions and the terrible illnesses and existential suffering she endured until her death in 2016.
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