Publishing discrete posts really does generate a specific genre, a whole that is split into episodes. To the Moon and Back is intended to be split into episodes in the first place. And this fragmentation, posted in a blog in pieces, once a week, may be great for those who like to read excerpts that stand on their own, without feeling that the text was wrung from the big picture like a throbbing organ from a complete organism. But then on the other hand it means that the big picture may have a hard time coming together, and the more or less regular reader of the posts might wonder what this new post has to do with the rest. Reading such a disjointed text in one book is easier, first because you’ve got the complete end-product in your hands, but also because the book, with the label “novel” on its cover page, already sets the expectations to a particular reading of the text.
So I thought I should maybe say a few words in this post about what To the Moon and Back is all about, and why it will be structured in a particular way. Hopefully this “key” will help my blog readers in putting the posts together, or at least in accepting why one post may not directly, or explicitly, build on the previous one.
To the Moon and Back is essentially about identity, denial, and alienation. The plot contextualizes identity as national identity, but gradually, towards the end of the book, it will be suggested that what is at stake is in fact a broader view on what we want to accept about ourselves, on what we repress and on the resulting alienation from the world and from our own lives.
The narrative runs in parallel in two different worlds: one story is set in contemporary Romania, where people feel captives of a crazy world and would like to free themselves and leave it; the other story is set in Germany, where some Romanians have emigrated, but feel equally captive, in a world that is alien and dead. Romania and Germany turn little by little into fictional territories: Romania is the territory where people are in the foreground and the state, organisation, structure, is missing; Germany is the territory where the state and structure are foregrounded, while the people are invisible. Romanians wandering through the “German” territory feel estranged and hanging between two worlds, belonging to neither.
So the text will be fragmented in more than one way. First, there will be the “Romanian” and the “German” stories, running in parallel. The finished book will feature the “German” story in the footer of the printed page, like an underground stream. But within the two main stories there will be episodes portraying people and destinies. The narrator voice will often be claimed by different characters, so that the foreign journalist who is experiencing the plunge into these two worlds will find himself pressed into an own revelation, an own initiatic journey.
To the Moon and Back sets out to be a (reading) experience in itself. Reading the fragmented text one should directly experience what it is like to deny oneself: the world, and the inner world in particular, break down to pieces in ruthless chaos. Finding a way to connect them into a big picture is often about taking the dark spots of the picture on board. Deriving from chaos a structure, a meaning.
The foreign journalist will get back to his desk with the feeling that something is essentially changed. He has made some life resolutions and his understanding of certain realities and people is different. Maybe also his understanding of himself.
One last thing. To the Moon and Back will also touch on the issue of writing in a language different than one’s own. While it won’t necessarily define my own commitment to writing in English, it will certainly reflect part of my journey, in time, towards this day.