Announcing the 2020 publication of...
Though this book was published in 2020, it was not written then. Psyche’s House is a memoir, in the shape of an eighteen-month journal, about a period of my life that was nearer the beginning of the millennium.
Writers, when they sit down to write, can find themselves arguing with a stubborn text about where the manuscript will go. Every book I have written, no matter how thoroughly planned, has wandered along its traces. This book, however, was in a category by itself. When I started, I had a much different book in mind—one that explored the meaning of time and engaged other writers who had thought about the cultural role of time. I did a lot of reading, then sat down to write. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t force the manuscript in the direction I had planned. Many pages went into the wastebasket during the struggles. I thought more than once about abandoning the project.
In the end, I was left with a short manuscript that seemed, from a writer’s perspective, strange and unclassifiable. I showed it to two other writers. One liked it, one didn’t. The negative voice prevailed—the text was sent to pasture and I went on to other projects. In retrospect, the decision to abandon it probably was not that difficult. The manuscript was more personal than anything I had written before (or anything I have written since). I didn’t know whether I was ready to put such personal thoughts in print.
Though I stopped working on the manuscript, I never lost track of it. Over the next few years I found myself taking it down from the shelf and rereading parts of it. In late 2018, at the conclusion of a long writing project, I returned to the old text. I solicited a wider array of friends to read it and give me their advice. They all wanted to see it in print.
I decided to issue the book through Amazon. Before I could do this, though, I had a contract in hand from a publisher for another book, one with a tight deadline. Psyche’s House, alas, went back on the shelf went for another eighteen months
The book is called Psyche’s House because it is bookended with two parts of the myth of Psyche, as the story is found in The Golden Ass, a collection of stories handed down by the second-century Latin writer Lucius Apuleius.
Psyche’s House is part confession, part quest for a place of transparency, part struggle to find the where writers stand when they put words to paper. The narrative is carried along on concrete images and metaphors—a scarecrow protecting a garden, my struggle with Tourette’s, a tree split by lightning, a spider’s web twisting in the wind, a feral plant cultivated for its blue flowers, a lost love. Along the way, I tell about encounters with animals—a terrified hedgehog, a hungry groundhog, a knocking crow, and a pair of Canada geese. People also join and leave the narrative, a mong them St. Francis, Malcolm Muggeridge, Cervantes, Heraclitus, and Hegel.
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