Author(s): Richard Skinner
Erik Satie - composer, dandy, eccentric - is dead. Told to select one memory to take with him into the afterlife, he finds himself in limbo with a community of the deceased, looking back at his fifty-nine years for its most precious moments. Evenings of absinthe at the Chat Noir? Friendships with Debussy, Duchamp and Man Ray? What of his great musical triumphs and disasters? How will he choose his own legacy before silent whiteness descends? Venice, 1511. In the convent of Sant' Alvise, Oliva is about to take the veil and become a bride of Christ. When her world is shaken - first, literally, by an earthquake, and then, spiritually, by forces that threaten to change the convent for ever - she begins to ask questions about her faith and her future. When she agrees to sit for Signor Avilo, the renowned portrait painter, he brings with him a diabolical object: a mirror. And reflections can be dangerous. Told with playful elegance, these are two utterly original tales of art and devotion, of religious and creative fervour.
They contemplate the eternal in different ways - one examining a life only just beginning, tentatively; the other a life lived without compromise as it reaches its close.
Richard Skinner is the author of the novels The Red Dancer, Le gentleman de velours (shortlisted in France for the Prix Livres & Musiques) and The Darks. He has also written a writer's handbook entitled Fiction Writing (Hale). For many years, Richard has been an Associate Tutor at Goldsmiths College, London, where he teaches on the MA Creative & Life Writing. He is Director of the Fiction Programme at the Faber Academy and a tutor on its six-month 'Writing a Novel' course.