Over the last four days, I worked hard to finish the first draft of this novel by my self-inflicted deadline of Sept 11, I met my deadline. I got four more chapters sketched out. I found the ending I was hoping for. The novel is twenty-chapters long. It will take me a few days to proofread all of them before I put them on my website. (Yes, your typo corrections are welcome.) Today, I’m adding a new chapter after Chapter Eight.
It’s mostly dialog between Winston and his friends, Horatio and Laertes, from his old life in my last novel. The chapter establishes some tension that will snap in the rising action of (what will be) the eighteenth chapter. In the next months, I will be going over the entire novel, tweaking and tightening and, most importantly to me, adding more poetic resonance.
Right now this chapter reads a lot like movie script with very little stage direction. One of my best friends, N, tells me she hates fiction, especially when the author cranks out a bunch of adjectives. So if you’re like N, you might prefer this version of the chapter before I sully it with echoes from Alexander Pope’s Dunciad.
On Saturday, July 18th I’ll be at the NorthEast-Millerton Library at 1PM. Pick up a copy of Locus Amoenus at Oblong Books to bring with you to have signed. Here’s a piece from the June issue of Main Street Magazine.
Amenia–Local novelist Victoria N. Alexander will be promoting her new novel, “Locus Amoenus” at the Amenia Free Library book fair on Saturday, June 13th, from 10 a.m. to noon.
“Locus Amoenus” (which means pleasant locale) is a story based in Amenia which satirizes the Webutuck School District Wellness Committee. Local complacency and conformity feeds into a larger narrative of post 9/11 corruption, junk food, junk news, big pharma and war.Continue reading →
“There are several 9/11 truth thrillers in print. But until now, the only 9/11-truth-themed novel of high literary quality was Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge.
Victoria N. Alexander’s new novel Locus Amoenus is the best fictional treatment of 9/11 yet. It’s hilarious, darkly ironic, playful, deeply moving – and stands as an explosive controlled demolition of post-9/11 American culture.
Has 9/11 left us in the position of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, who knows but cannot act? I’ve asked that question more than once – but never as eloquently as Victoria Alexander does in this unforgettable book.” Continue reading →
Victoria N. Alexander has constructed a clever and engaging novel loosely based on Shakespeare’s masterpiece, Hamlet. This dark comedy revolves around the tragedy of 9/11. Alexander has several novels to her credit, as well as a work non-fiction, The Biologist’s Mistress: Rethinking Self-Organization in Art, Literature, & Nature. She is also working on a comedy screenplay about a high security dystopia.
Hamlet’s father has apparently died in the collapse of the twin towers, and Hamlet and his mother Gertrude move to a rural village, Amenia where the residents are suspicious of strangers. The town suffers from an epidemic of obesity, because of a local connection to big agriculture farms…Read more.
Harlem Valley NewsMay 11, 2015Local author, Victoria N. Alexander has a new novel coming out on June 12th called Locus Amoenus—set in Amenia and the Harlem Valley region Amenia, NY. The hero of Victoria N. Alexander’s novel Locus Amoenus may be the new Holden Caulfield for the post-9/11 generation, according to Kirkus Reviews. In Alexander’s witty but dark political satire, a 9/11 widow and her son, Hamlet, move to beautiful Amenia in upstate New York where they run a sustainable farm—but Hamlet becomes depressed when, on the 8th anniversary of his father’s death, his mother remarries a boring bureaucrat named Claudius. Then Hamlet learns from Horatio, conspiracy theorist, that Claudius is a fraud and something is rotten in the United States of America. With extraordinary gallows humor, Alexander looks at the tragedy that is contemporary politics, as it plays out in any town America where health, happiness and freedom have been traded for cheap Walmart goods, Paxil, environmental degradation, and endless war. Continue reading →
Book Review: Locus Amoenus by Tonia Shoumatoff
When Victoria Alexander moved up to Amenia from Soho is 2003, she got the vibe that people thought she was a city person (a ‘citiot’ as she says in her novel) and that the locals did not think much of her. “They don’t like outsiders here,” she was told by her first friend, an older woman who has lived in Amenia for forty years. Continue reading →
Alexander’s newest novel Locus Amoenus (Permanent Press, 192 pages) finds Hamlet taking place in rural America against the backdrop of 9/11 and the Iraq War. “Something is rotten in the United States of America.” So says Alexander’s narrator, a young man named Hamlet. After his father dies on 9/11, Hamlet and his mother, Gertrude, move to upstate New York, where they maintain a farm. After several years, Gertrude meets Claudius, a bureaucrat and scientist who contributed to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s World Trade Center report. Yes, this is Hamlet reimagined as a truther, and in this retelling of Shakespeare’s tragedy, the protagonist isn’t just feigning madness—he’s genuinely losing his mind.
Okay, so maybe picking a Latin phrase, Locus Amœnus, with its weird spelling, for the title of my latest novel might make it a little hard for people to recommend it to friends. (If you order now from Amazon you can get 13% off.) Locus amœnus can be pronounced in English, Low cuss a men us, with stresses on “low” and “a.” In Latin you want to make “amœnus” sound more like “a moin us.” I have also heard amœnus pronounced “uh mean us.” Any of these are acceptable. This is America, after all.
Locus Amœnus means “pleasant location,” and it’s used in poetry to describe a restful place where nothing bad ever happens. It also happens to be the scene of the crime in many of Ovid’s tales, an idea which fits well with the theme of my novel. I couldn’t pass up this phrase for my title, despite its awkwardness, because the story is set in the rural upstate town of Amenia, a would-be pastoral paradise where I own a sheep farm. The name “Amenia” of course comes from the same Latin word as amœnus. Amenia is, by the way, variously pronounced as “Uh many uh” or “Uh meanie uh.”
The cover for Locus Amœnus, my new novel which will be out this spring, will feature the painting Silo Ridge by Tarryl Gabel. Gabel is an award-winning local painter, inspired by the Hudson River School, who continues to paint landscapes of this beautiful valley. Silo Ridge is the name of the old farmland (now a golf course) that is the town of Amenia’s claim to fame. It is one of the most, if not the most, beautiful views in the whole area. When my husband and I were looking for land to purchase, we drove all over the Catskills and Harlem Valley. When we went round the hill and were presented with this scene, we knew we wanted to make this area our home.