Take my hand, let's plunge into woods, dart between pines like fairy-tale riffraff sprung from a cage Something is lurking, Something sees Is that why the rocks are so rigid and straight? Why else should we stick like words to our page? What if, instead, you let go of my hand and pushed me, ungently, into a lake? What if I laughed instead of getting mad, slime on my head a fish up the leg? Impossible to live like orphans, you say, but it's spring and I'm drunk and I want to be nuts The clock says I've lived but half of this life I want to get wet, be charged with a quest, kiss your hot neck— storm the castle
As if volcanoes were born to make art of the lava You, Francesca, a human person Young. Naked. Even in dresses. Needful as the living dawn.
Young. Dead by the time that I turned five. Francesca Woodman, a suicide a great crawling prostrated obscured in full daylight laughing silently through your lens with a slippery, feral, unnatural intent. Gaze made of marble, Body ether I bet you thought gravity would bend. Baby-girl voice. Varicose ambitions. Your mother, the ceramicist, didn't quite get you, did she But your father, the painter, let go of his canvas chasing you through the halls of your pictures, to be trapped like Escher in the mind of your eye
Francesca — Italia. Woodman — New England. How uncanny your black, how holy your linens But you — you are still the something Other. You ghost. You specter. You witchy shapeshifter. Francesca: Girl eternal. Francesca. 22 years old when the body struck pavement. Francesca. Wallpapered in to the seam of your story. Lacquered. Canonized. Ethereal angel. And so. But then. You got what you wanted. Francesca, Francesca— what a price.
I can't write horror. I can't write resistance. I can't write our way out of this, I'm sorry. I'm useless. The world, overnight, betrayed our trust, becoming nakedly monstrous (without turning serious). Artists raged, felt the pull toward truth, spitting nails from their mouths, tasting blood at the roots. Minds were distorted, preconceptions split up. And I know, I know. We ought to fight evil with all the words in the arsenal. Every writer worth her salt should be screaming, "Look out!" and "Fire!" Remember your history? The hellscapes of Bosch, the Germany of Weimar? What power! (Drop your illusions, Sarah: be a truth-teller, finally.) But I can't do it. I am petrified wood in the face of this fire. I need beauty. I crave it. Turn my back so to save it. Giddiness! Upsweep! Poetic indulgence. Oh, I seek awe in the marriage of molecule and light. I will have it. So spring—do your thing. Swamp my soul like Ophelia's. I want his eyes synched to mine, heart foolishly reeling. Oh God but I'm tired of caring so much. Atlas—that's it! Shrug off that burden. Sit with me. Stretch. Watch the mayflies grow older. A tulip. A daisy. The arc of the heron. All I'm asking for—please—is the grace of a moment. And I will make of it a monastery. At the top of the waves.
It seemed fitting to run my Kindle Countdown Sale during Valentine's week, since Sarabande is, at heart, a love story.
The novel will be priced at $0.99 from 2/12—2/19. Remember that you don't need to own a Kindle device to read a Kindle title. Just download the app to your tablet or phone. You can also read the book on your computer.
One of the benefits of enrolling in Amazon's KDP Select program is the ability to run a "countdown sale" and/or a free giveaway during the author's 90-day enrollment period. I will be interested to see the results, before ending my exclusive contract with Amazon and enrolling the book in Smashwords, too.
The book is also available in good, old-fashioned paperback.
I appreciate all the lovely reviews I've gotten so far. If you'd be interested in writing an honest review of the book, contact me and I'd be happy to gift you the ebook version or even send you the paperback by mail. I'd be especially interested in getting reviews up on blogs, Amazon and Goodreads.
And, because it's almost Valentine's Day, here's a favorite love song I make mention of in Sarabande. Enjoy the lyrics of the great Leonard Cohen, interpreted by the now defunct duo The Civil Wars.
I keep wanting to run for the hills To cut off my head and replace it with flowers But I can't escape the fear and the anger I carry them with me they've blinded my entry into the places and people I imbued with beauty So that even the flowers are doubted now Yes, even the flowers are cowards
I hope we all meet this moment with fierce resolve. I hope we find reservoirs of courage and conviction inside ourselves we never knew we had. I hope we select a few issues we're utterly committed to and hound the hell out of our congressional representatives and senators when they're in danger of being trampled. My priorities are: 1. Health care 2. Climate change 3. Civil rights My rep is Steve Stivers. My Republican senator is Rob Portman. They're in my iPhone contact list now. If they hold a public forum in my area, you can bet I'll be there, asking questions. Making my opinion heard. Forcing the media to pay attention. Find your reps here: http://www.whoismyrepresentative.com So many of my illusions have been shattered in the last year. But I still believe in the kindness and decency of an enlightened people. I still believe that most people will do the right thing if they have access to good information. I still love my country and think she's worth fighting for.
But this is America now. Donald Trump is the president. Who will we become?
I'd like to share an excerpt from my new novel, SARABANDE. This is a stand-alone piece and possibly my favorite example of pure writing in the book. It was the closest I could get to writing something akin to music. Anna, the main female character, is a world-renown cellist. During a performance of Bach's second cello suite, she imagines her instrument's beginnings: It began in a forest, divided in maple and pine, working on stillness before the ax could cut free its song. And while it waited, it listened. Absorbing the beatings of hooves and wings and keeping them tight inside the knots and rings. Distinguishing the answers of robins from the asking of the owl with all the eager pencils of its limbs. It learned to amplify the sound of rain with leaves and tent it beneath bark and moss and fungiform. It saw how the moon spelled the sun’s baton, how the insects were deflowered by darkness, how the hours recycled themselves in an infinite variation of the same basic themes. And it began to understand, as the years stretched tall its canopy, that music is made in the silences, too. In the sunlight speared deep inside a wood, in the spider’s light and fatal loom, in the rotted logs of yesteryears. It waited centuries, listening.
And when, at last, the ax struck, it found some relief in the whelping of a wolf, some hills and hoofbeats away. Because it knew, though its vessels were clipped, its heart would pump again. The man’s name was Stradivari. The master, they called him. A close man, a concentrated man, with hands more patient than a monk’s. He knew the secret of making wood liquid. Of how to destroy one thing to make something more of its essentials. Where to frame the masculine tension of surviving around the female folds of creation. In his workshop, the hands were many, but his eyes had final approval over all he sired. And in May of 1712, he placed his palm on the apprentice’s shoulder and told him to step aside and watch. When Stradivari finished applying the last coat of varnish to the bleeding wood, he set it aside and took his first meal of the day. The meat tasted of oil and resin. Covered in its childbirth, the instrument drank from the falling light of day. Many owners laid claim to its pedigree in the years that followed, as if they could be lifted up by association. None were deserving of the gift. The cello sat, forgotten, in the great, empty houses of privilege. On occasion, it was violated by small children, its neck cracked by an Italian duke given to wild social displays. During one harsh winter, it provided needed warmth for a family of mice and remembered—like a memory scratching around in its attic—old roots in a forest floor. Approaching its two hundredth year, it was thrown out, rescued, at the last moment, from an estate sale’s wheelbarrow, its case warped by the rain, neck twisted like a strangled chicken’s. The woman wanted it for a decoration. Christmas lasted all twelve days that year. Thunderstorms were its only solace. At times the thunder was cracking enough to induce small vibrations—an echo of an echo—inside the ribs. Salvation arrived in the compact form of a Spaniard with sharp eyes and a physician’s hands. A man so deserving of the gift that the instrument sang for him with as much humility as its long confinement had earned. The Spaniard listened and nodded, placing his ear against the snapped neck, hearing the pure flame of its throat before its song could splinter. His name was Casals, he whispered, touching the wood with Stradivari’s tenderness. And it knew that home had come. Two hundred years after its birth, it would come to be christened “El Colom.” The Dove. When the ax swung again, silencing Casals, a white rose laid across its strings, in silent tribute to this second father. So it waited. Until it could be born again. So it waited. Perhaps, this time, a mother would come. ------
If you would like to purchase Sarabande, it's now available for $3.99 on the Kindle app or $13.95 in paperback. Click HERE.
I'm happy to announce that my new novel, Sarabande, is now available on the Kindle and in paperback. Jennifer Zobair, author of Painted Hands, says: "Hauntingly lyrical and richly detailed, Sarah Hina’s second novel is a smart, sophisticated exploration of online romance. Like the finest maestro in complete control of her craft, Hina interweaves delicate, plaintive sections the reader will slow to savor, with raw, carnal passages that cause pages to turn in a flurry. Sarabande is wondrous and soaring—like art, like music, like love—should be. An uncommonly beautiful book." I started writing Sarabande in 2009. It's now 2017. So you might say this novel was a bit of a slow burner for me. It didn't always come easy. These two characters—Anna and Colin—demanded I get their story right. In the end, I think I did. This is the story I wanted to tell. A love story for our modern times, if also a bit of an old-fashioned dance. sarabande: n.
1. A fast, erotic dance of the 1500s of Mexico and Spain.
2. A stately court dance of the 1600s and 1700s, in slow triple time.
3. The music for either of these dances.
If you'd like to take a dip, here's a preview just for you:
I'd be very grateful if you decided to purchase a copy. And if, after reading, you could manage to post a few kind words in a review on Amazon, or Goodreads, I'd be downright giddy. Thanks to you all. I know blogs don't have the reach they once enjoyed, but I appreciate the readers who still swing by here on occasion, and I count you all as friends.
For those of you who have been following my blog for awhile, you'll know I have a New Year's tradition of posting a story on the first of January that touches on some facet of "new." This year, though, I want to tell you about a new book of mine, Sarabande, which I'll be publishing in the coming week or two. (I don't have an exact date, thanks to some uncertainty on the processing end.) From the back cover: When Colin Ashe digs up a box of childhood treasures buried in his front yard, he's drawn to the woman who put it there, twenty years before. Anna Brawne is a renowned cellist, recently engaged to her conductor, who wants only to put her family's past to bed. But with the loss of her mother, Anna makes a major break from the ambitious path carved out for her—a break that includes Colin Ashe. The two connect online, where their physical distance guards an illusion of innocence, even as their revelations and longing grow. Colin reignites Anna’s passion for her art. But for the married Colin, desperate to preserve his young son’s trust, Anna Brawne might be his biggest mistake. Sarabande is a powerful love story for our digital age, in which intimacy is easier than ever, but integrity remains a constant struggle. The paths of Anna and Colin will pull them toward Paris—and each other—but their fate is up to them. And, of course, the cover:
I'll post more about Sarabande when the book is actually available, but for now—just this preview. :) Happy New Year, everybody! May 2017 be kind to us all.