the roamings of a book…

embankmentAs the book has been out for some weeks now, and here and there feedback has been coming in from the field, pictures of it lying around on trains and on cocktail tables in Paris have also been been spotted.

Since the release on Feb 7, the book has shipped between three continents, so here the call:

^IF YOU HAPPEN TO HAVE The Hand of Yemanja IN YOUR POSSESION, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, MAKE A SNAP OF IT IN YOUR SURROUNDINGS AND POST IT IN THE COMMENTS BELOW OR TO THE FACEBOOK PAGE^

Let’s see how it roams – a trip around the world for the ‘on-line’ generation.

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Ingrid Oud: the Marais, Paris – March, 2013

Leslie Schwartz: somewhere in The Netherlands – March 2013

Marlies Oud: Amsterdam – March 2013

Nick Oud: Amsterdam – March 2013

Anna-Mari Lilja: California – April 2013

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Elly Trampenau: Amsterdam – April 2013

Santje Kramer: somewhere on a beach in Turkey – May 2013

Suzanne van Gelder – Gouda, The Netherlands. May 2013

Angela Capo: Naples – May 2013

Kristel Fliervoet, Amsterdam NL, June 2013

Mo Robertus - Belan-sur-Ource July 2013

Mo Robertus – Belan-sur-Ource July 2013

Antoinette Verstegen, Boxmeer - August 2013

Antoinette Verstegen, Boxmeer – August 2013

David Lee - Amsterdam, August 2013

David Lee – Amsterdam, August 2013

David Lee edits

a true friend is worth an ego-crunching fortune

Linnaeus Boekhandel – Amsterdam, August 2013

American Book Center – Amsterdam, August 2013

Sandra Pinochet – Argentina, November 2013

Marga Ahoud – St Maarten, Nov 2013

Liz van der Maarel - Algarve

Liz van der Maarel – Algarve, Dec 2013

Ineke Kamps-Robertus - Groningen, March 2014

Ineke Kamps-Robertus – Groningen, March 2014

Paul de Rijk, Somewhere over the Atlantic - March 2014

Paul de Rijk, Somewhere over the Atlantic – March 2014

 

 

 

Sanjay Korteweg - Namibia, April 2015

 

 

 

Rituparna Roy - Leiden 2015

Rituparna Roy – Leiden 2015

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Always tempt the Goddess!

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In the Old Patagonian Express, Paul Theroux begins his journey to the Southernmost tip of the American continent by observing a young woman reading one of his earlier books on a train.

Now, anyone who has ever written anything at all, in the hope it will be read by anyone, will understand what a mystifying experience that surely must have been – how very few things in the world are more engaging than actually watching a total stranger suck up the words you yourself put on that page.

It’s been a while since I have read the Old Patagonian Express, and I’m not all that sure if this reference is even accurate. But the idea is still that this is very much a fantasy I hope I will get to live out some day myself. And, so I have put myself at the  mercy of chance and need to be ready to spring into action the minute opportunity presents itself to turn it into a reality. Magic, the conductor of fate, needs to be put forth before it will come bouncing back, is the way I see it.

When certain requirements, conditions, are finally in place; only then can the Goddess come in and do what she does best: turn fantasy into reality;

– A book from one’s own hand needs to be making its way through the world.

– The author of said book needs to be traveling with said unsuspecting reader, who happens to  not have been tempted by any other masterpiece at the kiosk of the Gare du Nord and can furthermore, be bothered to read said author’s work.

– The author of said work needs to then be awake for a large portion of said train ride, even if it is after a long romantic weekend and said author’s eyelids are made ever so heavy by the sensuous rocking of the Thalys going supersonic between Charles du Gaulle and Bruxelles Midi.

But then, said author will remember that his book hasn’t been out long enough – and that a French translation of it, at this point, is a one fantasy that is still to make it out of the ranks of common lunacy.

Said author may chuckle to himself at this point, a little bitter, perhaps; though in no way bitter enough to dirty his gathering karma with cynical thoughts, of course, and he will remember that the Goddess is also fickle, as Goddesses tend to be. The Goddess needs tempting, the timid will bore her and she will walk right by, unless one tugs at her robe a bit to get her attention from time to time.

Directly next to me, on the other side of the isle, there is a man I take to be French, reading something that is beautifully bound – and thick! I take him to be French for no other reason than that he has a moustache stuck to his face and has not stopped chewing energy bars since leaving Paris. I get up and pretend to reach for my things to sneak a peek at it. English!

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Now, this not only rules out him being a Frenchman, but also suggests he is tourist travelling alone, far from home and therefore keen to starting conversations with total strangers. And best of all, as a traveler, he will know about the Goddess for sure.

I tap the man on the shoulder. I introduce myself and explain my relationship with the Goddess. I learn he is Dutch, a man serving in the public sector, going home to Schiedam.

I grab my own copy of the book, the one out of my own hand… and offer it to him.

He looks at me like I am a complete maniac and is clearly fearing for his own safety. He reaches into his inside pocket of his blazer – for what I am hoping will not be a can of maze, but a pen.

It is the latter.

I sign the book:

_________________________________________

To my neighbor Maarten from the Thalys;

The Hand of Yemanja

17-3-2013

Claudio Tapia

_________________________________________

I’ll be on a train again tomorrow.

Enjoy the read, Maarten! The Goddess is watching us both.

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Gone to Print

As of this morning, everybody who needed to approve things that needed approving have approved them – and The Hand of Yemanja has gone to print!

This morning I went running, as I have done often before. Technically, sure, I covered distance; moving is obviously a process. But sometimes, as it was today, it isn’t the process that’s felt but the arrival, the conclusion of effort; not the contemplation of a jump but the landing itself.

Writing is travel, for me at least. It is waking at an ungodly hour to pack a bag, call a cab, clear an airport and feel yourself being pulled off the ground with a destination. Sometimes – though not often – it can also be like your body breaking the surface of the water for the first time, on your first day of a sunny vacation. Everything that clings to you is now behind you. Your past actions are what they are and there is nothing you can do but accept that for a brief period – until your next onbession that is – you are free.

I revisited some old material, hoping to find work that might match this experience. What I found was a clip in which I visualize Lydia’s  arrival in the New World, the moment she too is free to just look forward.

Enjoy!

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Chapters Closing

The Hand Of Yemanja Back coverMy sweetheart’s cat has gone missing; been gone two days. It surprises her – and me – how attached she’s become and what it does to her to think her furry friend is out there somewhere and that no-one knows where to really look. I wish there were something more that could be done, that I could do more; that peace of mind could be as easy a thing to make as the chapters we open and close so precareously all the time in the stories we write!

The Hand Of Yemanja Spine cover

A cell phone in Dublin slips into a coma and there is no prayer that will bring it back to life, so I read on facebook. All my friends seem to be chapter-closers these days. By late afternoon, the plug gets pulled at last and the mourning there too can begin (an iPhone is my hope), the closing of a chapter that immediately announces the one that is soon to come.

I just closed off a job of ten years today and though I must have, I don’t remember seeing a soul. Just walked through the door and rode the borrowed bike back to the station, where I smoked my 17:30 cigarette and took a train I have secretly been hoping I will never have to take again. I already miss it, the job, the people. Knew I would, that this I too would mourn.

But the pling in my pocket, as I am reading through this morning’s non-news in the free non-news newspaper that was handed to me by some kid in what has always looked to me like the jacket of a race car driver – for some reason – announces the opening of MY chapter NEXT, page ONE.

The Hand Of Yemanja front cover (3)I swipe and find there is a message from the design department, containing four files in total: Book Cover – front, Book Cover – back, Book Cover – spine, Book Block pdf, requiring my last revisions and (please, not to fuck around with corrections anymore, for we are rather pressed for time) approval by morning.

As I want to jump with joy at seeing I am now another monkey with a book, I  decide that the mourning part I will skip today and just lather myself with that heavenly balm called EGO and stare into that mirror in which I am always pretty and will always have something to say.

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A tribute

Pierre Verger livro_orixas

So, how does the Bantu Goddess of the sea, Yemanja, get to play a title role in the book? To answer that question I need to take you back to my biography.

On 9/11, 1973, democracy was hung by its feet and bled to death in Chile. Soon, an exodus got underway out of the clutches of fascism and among the thousands who felt threatened enough to leave everything behind were my parents, selling all but the bare necessities and taking their three young sons on a cruise bound for Genoa. No, really, a cruise, a boat; the idea being that it would be less conspicuous than – say, crossing the Andes on mule to Argentina.

Point is, even though, we passed through the Panama Canal, we too navigated over Neptune’s roof, like Lydia and Paxi and other characters in the book; over the lap of the Goddess and too were touched by it, The Atlantic.

And: so, what about Pierre Verger, with his the fleshy, moving work that captures so enticingly the Brazil of Condomble? Well, in the same way the Goddess comes to Edmilce in the book, by Pierre Verger’s hand came this:

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Which Anja Robertus laid over one of her own photos shot in Brazil, and for me and the book she made this:

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Thank you, Anja, for your design and thank you Pierre Verger Foundation for the pic. Both contributions have been invaluable, given of course that it is with this image that the book begins to get visual, as it was still largely being written at the time. The marriage of Pierre Verger and Anja Robertus’ work is actually what put me on the path to Lit-Cinema, and if The Hand of Yemanja ever gets made into a movie, this will be the poster.

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why write?

I am sitting at a large table. There has been a gallery opening. I find myself surrounded by individuals active in the Amsterdam arts scene. Among them, a famous Dutch writer – a very famous Dutch writer – but not the kind that does judging gigs, I think. And when it’s my turn to introduce myself to the Intelligenzia something interesting happens.pulpomatic 3 - kopie

I say I have just found a publisher for my first book and that it will be coming out in a few months. My announcement causes neither much enthusiasm nor skepticism. But whether it is a good book, or if it will ever sell even one copy, the consensus appears to be that it is still an artistic endeavor and therefore honorable. My place at the table seems granted.

Before long the famous Dutch writer is coming forward in his chair across from me, scraping his throat to speak. He looks me in the eye and it is at that moment that my chair loses a screw and becomes wobbly, going on kaput in fact. Something tells me I had better slow down on the spritzers.

“So, why did you write your book?”

I don’t even think to answer.

“What is the reason you wanted to write your book?”

I try to have a go at a slice of time, the moment before all is revealed at the end of some inevitable sequence that would probably come the closest to getting cherry popped. Because nothing else could feel like this, I say to myself, not quite finding inner dialogue either.

But, however wacked the question, and well-timed too, it is a fair one. And most importantly: I have an answer.

I come forward myself.

“I wrote my book on the day I had nothing left on my shelf that was worth reading again,” I say, and add that I wrote it because I needed to read it. “Because it didn’t exist yet.”

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out in Feb 2013

cover webToday is the deadline I imposed on myself for the final edits of the book. What better moment, I figured, for sitting back in satisfaction about the thing I nurtured as my third-born, than the cosmic alignment and the day we all become Gods!

But I think I was wrong, at least in part. In the new age of enlightenment deadlines are ludicrous and creation – of any kind – is never complete.

Four minutes after midnight on 21-12-12, it wasn’t closure I enjoyed but rather a crystalline view of the work still locked in my computer and the discovery of a way to push the whole thing from OK to Great. In other words, last night I ‘suddenly’ saw the simple thing I could do to the manuscript that will finally put it on a level it had not yet achieved – and has now allowed me to say to you, ‘I am a writer worthy of your shelves!’

Today marks the end of the Maya calendar and it is the day I launch my website, where you will find everything you might want to know about me, my work and how you can be a part of it all.

I could have launched the site on the first of the year, of course, as was initially the plan, but today seems more appropriate and aesthetically significant. If today marks the end of time, then let it also be the day I come to you as the author I worked in earnest to become.

It’s been quite a trip getting here. I have tried on many hats along the way but this is the one I intend to wear from now on, the hat I have been shaping and molding into a perfect fit for years and which will serve me faithfully as we venture into this new era.

They say that all things will transform today; that reality and our place in the universe will never be what it once was. We have closed off the age of utility and accumulation and will now be stepping into an age in which currency will not be based on gold or oil, but the karma we can collect by giving. Happiness will no longer be measured by the height of the pile of presents under the Christmas tree, but by the simple fact we are looking at a Christmas tree in the first place. In the end, it’s also cheaper that way.

Happy transformations and thanks for dropping in!

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