Today I heard from another fan who just finished reading the new, revised draft of my book, Narcisa. Reading their comments, I realized they were almost overstating the obvious in their observations of the protagonists as ”dysfunctional” human beings. Duh. But that kinda got me to thinking…
The question this book attempts to answer is WHY? What makes people like these characters tick, and how did they get to be the way they are?
When the first edition of Narcisa was released a few years back, it rose surprisingly to almost overnight cult classic status, before going out of print and becoming unavailable to the average reader. Rare copies selling for hundreds of dollars on amazon have become coveted collector’s items now. In the ensuing years, there’s been so much interest in this book, I soon realized that many many people related almost addictively, pathologically to these characters.
That made me really start to wonder… Is it because there’s so many people like them out there that literally thousands of readers have been begging to see a new, revised edition? Why are all these people clamoring for a sequel and greedily following the character’s every move and ”dysfunctional” exploit on blog posts and excerpts from an obscure book in progress? Why has there been so much obsessive interest and identification with just a couple of obscure low-life underworld weirdos like Narcisa and Cigano?
Could it be that they represent something inside all of us that people only feel comfortable looking at through the fictional adventures of others?
And what about all the other folks who can’t even imagine what it’s like for people like these characters? Isn’t it cool that they too have the curiosity to want to know more about the strange mental twists and unfathomable motivations of their fellows?.
Who are these unknown human shadows who inhabit the underbelly of the world we live in? What is their world like? A world which many of us barely know exists, but which we cross paths with daily?
Who are the legions of homeless, strung-out, hollow eyed phantoms standing like sentries at freeway off-ramps with their hands held out in mute supplication? Who is the guy covered in grime standing in front of the convenience store begging you for spare change? Who is the old lady lurking at the bus stop talking to the pigeons all day long? Where do these people come from? How did they get there? What are they thinking, feeling, dreaming? Why do they bother us? Why do they scare us?
Is it because maybe we know they’re just like ourselves, in essence?
Without understanding of others, there can be no identification, therefore no compassion. And without compassion there can be no humanity, no human society.
Narcisa is a book that attempts to answer some of these questions — mostly by asking more questions. Hopefully it will challenge the curious, open-minded reader to ask a few questions of their own.
After all is said and done, as human beings and as a society, we’re only as “functional” as the questions we ask.
- Jonathan Shaw, author of Narcisa