Jerome Charyn Shares his P4P Experience

I was delighted to take part in the Politics for the People discussion group concerning my novel, I Am Abraham.  I think it is critical that a book club has its own political point of view and also a passion for politics as something that is alive and that continues to grow.  Art and politics are often intertwined; actually, all writing is a political act.  Every single sentence we write has a political slant.  And a novel told in Lincoln’s voice cannot help but breathe politics.

I was quite pleased that my novel was the book club’s first selection of 2015.  All the questions asked were quite impassioned.  Novelists are not extraterrestrials.  Each one of us shares many of the same weaknesses and strengths, and an ear for the music of words—otherwise we could not read.  It’s syncopation that drives a narrative.

Participants in the discussion all seemed very curious how I was able to write the book in Lincoln’s voice.  It wasn’t daring.  It was an act of will.  I had to become  Lincoln, to embody his gawkiness, his poetry, his sexuality, his shrewd sense of politics, and most of all, the music of his voice.

An author taking part in a book club discussion often learns as much as the participants, since he or she has to articulate what was on other people’s minds.  I had prepared no answers.  I was out there in the void with all of you, trying to pull words from the dark.  I hope my music—and Lincoln’s—entered all our ears. And I want to thank Cathy and everyone involved for allowing me to learn more about Lincoln with you.

—Jerome Charyn

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