Tiresias

Tiresias has not been published.
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This website is designed to provide beta-readers with additional information regarding the novel and its setting.
All aspects of the novel may change prior to publication, including its title.

First Page

     She viewed them as the harshest strokes devised by the Romans: angled lines gashed into stone with a minimal number of blows, figures designed with all of the elegance offered by a mallet pounding on a chisel. The three strokes that formed the number cast before her commanded it to exist without subtlety, IV. On none of her medical charts, records or other documents had she seen the current stage of her cancer represented by the numeral 4.
      Stationed in the white-walled room, she wondered about the experts who had decided the crude markings of archaic tally sticks offered the most fitting symbol to denote the fourth level of such a brutal, ruining beast. They must have concluded that the slender Hindu-Arabic lines and curves gracing so much of modern western civilization weren't up to the task.
      Poisons dripped into her body while she sat in a padded chair. Words sharing Greek and Latin origins roiled through her mind and tattooed themselves onto her cells: Metastatic. Metastasis. What root should she use to define each term, to make sense of their demands for submission? To stand across? To move over? She decided upon "beyond rest."
      Supplementing the linguistic puzzle was the fact that so much of her treatment required an infusion from another representation of the Roman four, this one embracing the initial letters directly from the bloodthirsty Latin phrase intra venous. She recalled the tetraphobia of the Chinese. Wasn't four their most unlucky number, the very sound of its name a homophone for death? She saw Roman fours everywhere, and she was all too aware she would be offered no future access to a Stage V. She knew where that downward pointing caret led, and the solitude of the I missing before it remained as distinct as Martin Buber's.
      Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy... therapeia by its definition promised curing and healing, but for her there was to be none. It added to her frustration that entire vocabularies, beyond their individual words, now failed to suffice.
      Trained to analyze idioms from multiple perspectives, she was experiencing the unforeseen result of a lifetime spent studying ancient languages and ethnologies. Assessing the symbols on the equipment in the treatment room, she reweighed the values of Aegean and Attic numerals and tossed them aside for their lost isopsephy. Her reckoning now forced to focus on numbers that moved beyond counting, she totaled her teachers and her students, and factored her husband and daughter into an equation that kept its unknown variable so well-protected no "golden ratio" could admit to a solution.


Table of Contents

Title                Page
                 
Ivy                  1
Chiaroscuro                  11
Salmonella                  30
Ex Vivo                  47
Rome                  65
Fuori le Mura                  79
Adoption                  97
In Vivo                  112
Ozymandias                  129
Sole                  146
Undefined                  162
Guglielmone                  180
Alone                  200
Rinascimento                  221
Conjugation                  243
Famiglie                  263
Binary                  281

Page count based on 12 pt TNR on 8.5" x 11" paper with 1" margins.


Book Clubs

The following questions are designed to facilitate discussions regarding Tiresias.

  • Contrasts and conflicts are recurring themes throughout the story. Beyond Samuel and Ella's explicit precision with words, of what importance are dichotomies such as those between the direction of the flight of birds, the caduceus v. the rod of Asclepius, swifts v. swallows, Greeks v. Romans, and men v. women?
  • Discuss the influence of T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land on Tiresias, particularly regarding the relationship between its eponymous namesake and the Cumaean Sibyl.
  • The characters reference the differences between being blinded by light or darkness, and love or hate. Is it your opinion that these are real or false dichotomies?
  • Discuss the significance of any of the following to the story: hyacinths, constellations and the moon, underground spaces, or ambient sound.
  • Personification of statues plays an important role in the main characters' lives. In what ways are Guglielmo and the Talos related, and how does that relationship reflect the one between Ella and Europe?

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