As the universe inexplicably continues to chug along despite, or is it in spite, of the current state of the world, I'm really honored to support efforts to bring Victoria Falls by James Hornor out into the wider world. To quote his interview at The Rumpus:
The Rumpus: One of your protagonists shares your name, so I’m assuming some of this story is autobiographical. How much of this story is based on your own experiences? Why then did you choose to write and publish this story in 2019, at this tumultuous point in America’s social and political climate?
James Hornor: I went to Africa in 1994 as a consultant to the World Bank, so parts of this story are autobiographical. Like James Monroe, I had gone through a painful divorce and I was in somewhat of an identity crisis. Most men define their lives through their family and the accomplishments of their career, so in my early forties I began to look for my true identity as a man and as a human being as opposed to being defined by my “trophies” of accomplishment, power, and position.
The novel takes an honest look at what it means to be an authentic person once all of the trappings of societal norms have been stripped away. James Monroe discovers a side of himself that had been suppressed or hidden. He discovers his capacity to be vulnerable and selfless. He essentially redefines manhood by allowing those previously dormant qualities of unconditional love and ongoing care for others to emerge as the new markers of manhood.
This story is timely and relevant for 2019 since we are living in a political and societal culture where manhood is being defined by traditional role models in terms of wealth, power, and authority over others. Having these markers as the default definition of manhood is inculcating a message of confusion and doubt to an entire generation of young men who are the age of my fourteen-year-old son. By propagating the idea that self-worth is defined by power over others, today’s teens are made to believe that compassion and empathy are signs of weakness.
So, it is our responsibility to introduce them to opposing narratives where power mongering and greed are revealed as gross insecurities and where authenticity and empathy are championed as the way of courage.
I couldn't agree more. Further, I don't think this book could be more timely.
Please let me know if you have any questions and/or are interested in reviewing the book, interviewing the author, writing think pieces or generally engaging in the hype we're looking to generate for this most timely of books. For much more on all things Victoria Falls please do go here.