Maestro Keys — Introduction
I have written a novel called Maestro Keys. Its 70,000 words are divided into forty chapters. Every few days I will post one or two of those chapters.
The story is set in the San Francisco Bay Area. The action takes place over most of 2017.
The preface to the novel is a quote from Yuri Tynyanov, a Russian writer and critic who lived from 1894 to 1943:
“Literature differs from history not by ‘invention’ but by a greater, more intimate understanding of people and events, by deeper concern about them.”
Tynyanov lived under Soviet rulers who saw literature as a propaganda tool. Yet he remained a formalist (a term of potentially fatal opprobrium under Stalin), insisting that literature is an autonomous pursuit, subject not to ideological dictate but to artistic purpose.
What is artistic purpose? For me it’s reminding readers of the cluelessness, contradiction, and expedience of our daily lives — an intimate, rather than coldly historical, understanding of the human condition, as Tynyanov might have put it — from an unflinching but gently satiric and mostly forgiving perspective.
So you won’t find any superheroes, aliens, zombies, car chases, or explosions in the following pages. Instead you’ll find three ordinary people — a fifty year-old lawyer, his wife, and their college-age son — stumbling along as best they can. Like so many Bay Area denizens, they are more prosperous, educated, and liberal than most. But that doesn’t necessarily make them wiser — or less vulnerable.