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Waldensong Saturnalia

Tribute to the Mythic Years

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A novel by A.D. Morvaye

Short-listed for the Eastside Stories Competition, 1995, London, U.K.,
ISBN: 978-1-894967-33-4

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Shifting between Old Europe, the Orient and the New World, and spanning almost a century, this fictive journey traces the fortunes of the Hermans and the Morvayes, united and divided by love and hatred, betrayal and revenge, war and peace, Time and history. Honouring their memories in light and in shadow, Waldensong Saturnalia restores the scattered shard fragments of their lives. Gospel-legend recreated by latter-day evangelist, A.D.Morvaye.

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Reviving the Spell of Childhood


The novel Waldensong Saturnalia begins in bleak November as the Saturnalian season approaches. The stolid Christian Mission building has supplanted the memory of the Jewish burial-ground of centuries past. A hull-shaped corner house with its high porthole window evokes the ‘eye of God’ gazing darkly onto the street. Here in London East, the war may be over but the gaping bomb-site remains.

Once a mediaeval pastoral woodland alive with birdsong, Walden Street is now a huddled commune of brick terraces; a shell-shocked survivor of the Blitz. It's a real landscape and also a mythical landscape existing in real time.

Emerging from this landscape, Angie—as self-appointed evangelist—is the voice linking the shards of the story together in language that is dense, poetic, impressionistic and lyrical. And this personal gospel is an exaltation of human events—whether mundane, dramatic, humorous or tragic—into legend.

As romancer—and also necromancer—she revisits the mythic years of her childhood. From here, she resurrects a story that would otherwise sink into oblivion: Waldensong, ‘Song of the woods. Saturnalia, ‘Defiant celebration of life in the midst of darkness.’

And so as such, it’s an archeological dig. A will to reclaim what has been lost and restore what is passing: a fusion of memory and imagination, since memory is fallible and incomplete, as in any recorded gospel.

We encounter classical, pagan and religious motifs that are full of symbolic irony: the mock Christ-figure represented by the reluctant Patriarch, Taddeusz; the heroic procession of Madonnas, Libertines and Aunt Goddesses that populate the theatre of Angie's childhood: all of them jostling and clamouring to achieve a ‘Second Coming,’ their renaissance into legend.



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The novel WALDENSONG SATURNALIA was exhibited by HBG Productions at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2011


REVIEWS

  • I was impressed by the sophistication of the language, the sense of place, Iain Sinclair, British novelist, Selection Judge, Eastside Stories Competition, London, U.K., 1995

  • Fairly sings off the page, it is that lyrical. A masterful job, Kathy Green, Magazine Editor, New York, U.S.A.

  • A novel that spans a century and three continents to delve into the shadows of memor and the imagination, Howard Bokser, Editor, Concordia University Magazine, Spring 2010

  • A masterful writer; every word counts,Trevor Lockwood, Chairman, Radio Host, Felixstowe Community Radio, U.K.

  • It’s a fictional world that I was reluctant to leave, Mary Fitzpatrick, Artist, Digital Illustrator.

  • I enjoyed it very much—well written and dark, Cecile Ghosh, Cataloguing and Reference Librarian, Roxboro and Beaconsfield Libraries.

  • It covered about 100 years of history; it went all over the world… with people having every kind of human emotion you can imagine, Leslie Lutsky, Radio host, Jewish Digest, Radio Centreville, Montreal, Quebec.

  • Waldensong has gripped me—There is so much, so much to absorb. I don't think I've ever read a family "saga" like this. What a profound effort, Len Richman, Teacher, author, scholar.

  • The writing is gorgeous-;lyrical, polished and rife with symbolism. The two characters Greta and Lily are painfully real and alive…this seems like an extraordinary book. What a triumph! Angela Leuck, Haiku poet, Montreal, Quebec.

  • Waldensong Saturnalia is really a fine achievement. When I'd finished it, I felt as if I'd been on a long journey through time as well as geographically ... great powers of description: I can see the characters and places very clearly, Joan Plunkett, Actress/Educator, London, U.K.

  • Such rich language; I loved it, Ingrid Style, Artist

  • I am reading WALDENSONG SATURNALIA now and absolutely loving it. You are a truly gifted writer. Beautiful writing... I'm 60 pages into it and find it brilliant; "Dickensian" - amazing, It's the best thing I've seen in a long time…, Ann Diamond, Author of My Cold War.

  • I have recently finished Waldensong Saturnalia and it is very impressive. I am now back in London and traveled this morning through the East End where I felt the presence of many of the characters…You deserve all the plaudits…You have produced a really significant piece of work, Timothy Moon, Writer, Berlin, Germany.

Prelude

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The woods around Mile End were once walden and Walden all woods; and waldensong the delirious murmur of wood pigeons guarding the gravestones, the mediaeval black trunks of elms, St. Dunstan’s square tower glazed onto the sky.



I was weaned too soon, I suppose, so I need to travel back now and then to my birth city to feast on its remains. When my soul shrivels dry and threatens to expire in this saturnine land of my adoption, I come tramping back around London’s East End, soaking in the sooty streets and hop-reeking pubs, the soft buttery dog droppings plastered over the pavement and the damp, open greens—O Mum—the day you tumbled into bed with a ‘bloody foreigner,’ you condemned me to be an exile in my own land.

Thank you, thank you for this double-edged gift—but where will I lay my neurotic bones to rest while I’m still alive? Where is my country?

Drifting through these streets that loop and cross and threadneedle into one another, I eavesdrop on tweed-capped pensioners, pulled strongly along on dog leashes, rumbling out their gentle coughs at every lamppost. I admire the wind-polished faces of the schoolboys as they wade through market trash along Whitechapel. It’s where the glassy red phone-boxes, reeking of musk and dog piss, are vandalized by the local Hun.

My salmon-river journey tugs me past centuries old terrace-houses. Blindfolded. Gagged in plywood. Awaiting their death-row demolition. Pounding the pavement like an accidented soul, I’m newly dead—yet still haunting the track-path of my sudden annihilation. Wedged into this purgatory between worlds, I am a displaced sinner, forever atoning for the loss of the motherland.

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Along Walden, most doors and windows are boarded up or cemented shut. Our number is still visible though, painted white on faded blue under an arch of bricks crowning the door and fitted together like dragon’s teeth. Our doorstep, the one Aunt Flo faithfully ‘redded’ in wax, is faintly red still as though stained forever and ever in holly-berries or ox blood. The rib-iron grate guards her disused coal cellar, smeared in cobwebs, now an underground shrine.

A sharp draught pierces my eyes as I peep through the letterbox. The passage, arched at the far end and buried in workmen’s ladders, is awash in Walden’s mellow streetlight that filters in through wedges of dark glass, still intact, in their half-moon frames above the door. Guarding its aura of privacy, the sitting-room door to my right is wedged shut as though Uncle Albert still lived here. And a few steps further down into the gloom is the ramshackle latched door through which Aunt Flo’s black poodle escaped daily into our coffin-like yard.

Standing where I am, on this raised red step, with my ‘voyeur’ eyes framed by the narrow letterbox, I can see no further than the twisting juncture of the first and second landing where Aunt Flo and Greta, my sister, faced each other eyeball to eyeball, aeons ago, in a blood-curdling duel of screams and punches. I remember, too, the shadowy stairs around the unseen corner that led up to the lodger’s bed-sit. And climbing further still, as far as Lily’s—my mother’s—attic kitchen, the blackened gas stove (if it’s still there) must be on the topmost landing. This is where she stood years ago, leaning dreamily on one thin hip, frying steak and chips for Greta’s dinner.

“What’s the matter, Angie?” she’d say, a shade reproachful when she saw my face, nose wrinkling, seduced by the perfume, the translucent pearl of chopped onion. “Didn’t you get nothin’ to eat at school?”

My gaze travels upward to what used to be Lily’s bedroom window; it’s surrounded by a baroque pastiche of sooty mauve slate tiles. The massive corrugated roof is partitioned by each sloping row of bricks. Below the eaves, a drainpipe plumbs straight downward, incongruously elegant. And splashing up the brick façade is a flat gleaming cataract of moss; an exotic weed, rooted reckless between the cracks, offers up its marguerite blossom to the world.

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WALDENSONG SATURNALIA
ISBN: 978-1-894967-33-4. Format: Softcover, 6" by 9"
Price: $25.00 FREE shipping
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