Podcast, Novel Pay Tribute to Malcolm Lowry, Hermann Hesse
Wednesday, February 22, 2006 5:58:00 AM
by Robert W. Norris
|Japan-based novelist Robert W. Norris announced today the publication and podcast of his new novel, which he calls "an hallucinogenic mid-life crisis/adventure, and homage to Malcolm Lowry and Hermann Hesse.
"Autumn Shadows in August" (Lulu Press) tells the story of David Thompson, an American expatriate who sets out with his Japanese wife Kaori on a journey to Europe to retrace a path from his adventurous youth and locate a German benefactor from the past. A trip through the Magic Theater, a sudden death, an encounter with Lowry's ghost, and a descent into the Capuchin Crypt in Rome combine to give David and Kaori a new appreciation for life and reconfirmation of their relationship.
Norris acknowledges the influence of the Lowry, Hesse, and counterculture authors on his own writing.
"I came of age in the late sixties and early seventies, and was strongly influenced by such novels as Ken Kesey's 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,' Hesse's 'Steppenwolf' and Lowry's 'Under the Volcano,'" Norris said. "I've always wanted to write a novel that paid tribute to those writers and their works, and to weave in elements of magic realism and the psychedelic experience, which played a large part in the consciousness of my generation. 'Autumn Shadows in August' is modeled roughly on Lowry's 'Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend is Laid.'"
The protagonist of "Autumn Shadows in August" is the same as in Norris's first novel, "Looking for the Summer," which tells the story of a conscientious objector's adventures and search for identity on the road from Paris to Calcutta in 1977.
Asked whether both novels are autobiographical, Norris said, "To a certain extent, yes. I was a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War and spent time in a military jail for refusing to fight in the war. Later on, like many in my generation, I hit the road with a backpack and made a journey around the world. Those experiences formed the basis of my first novel. I came to Japan in 1983 and have lived here since. My wife and I took a trip to Europe in 1999 to look up a friend I made on the previous journey. The notes I took on that trip helped tremendously in the writing of 'Autumn Shadows in August.'"
Norris believes the Internet today is an important resource for writers. "For expatriate authors like myself, the Internet is indispensable. Companies like Lulu Press empower writers who have stories that the mainstream publishers might not take a chance on. Nowadays individuals can easily start their own publishing outfits at minimum cost. Print-on-demand technology allows books to be available forever, theoretically anyway. Podcasting allows authors and publishers to promote and reach niche audiences in a way we could only dream about before. I think from now on you'll see a lot of people writing and using this technology to broadcast their stories worldwide."
Norris is also the author of "Toraware," a novel about the obsessive relationship of three misfits from different cultural backgrounds in 1980s Kobe, Japan, and "The Many Roads to Japan," a novella used as a textbook in Japanese universities. He has written several articles on teaching English as a foreign language. He and his wife life near Fukuoka, Japan, where he is a professor and the dean of students at Fukuoka International University.
Autumn Shadows in August
Robert W. Norris
Published by Lulu Press
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Robert W. Norris, Author of Expatriate and Antiwar Fiction