Some Feet Not Meant for Shoes - Novel Excerpt
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Intro by Don Hazen
I often find it awe-inspiring when people are willing to make large personal sacrifices for their art. And I am thankful for the soul and determination of the artist. Yes, sometimes the artist can be annoying in their quest, but in the end I understand. The artist often feels like they have little choice in their often uncompromising direction, that carries them even as they try to guide it.
This is no small thing, this power of art. It is a power of clarity of purpose, where, while other things may matter, they tend to be shoved to the sidelines in the quest. Some people feel this in love. That other person is all they can think of. They must complete the gestalt to seek the relationship, to see if it is true. Nothing can stand in its way. But the artist's quest is often a solitary one. It is about what you are feeling inside. Somehow it has to come out, get expressed. And Pam Klein does this in her powerful novel Some Feet Not Meant For Shoes.
Over AlterNet.org's long history ( something like 15 years now) we have always been primarily a political website -- issues, change, justice, outrage, vision, despair, hope are part of our message. Of course, these are often important elements of fiction and novels too, and art is so often so very political. So in a unique departure from the norm, I'm honored to present a chapter of a work of fiction on AlterNet.
I have known Pam Klein for many years. She was a long-time editor and staff at the LA Weekly--which, for the period she was there, was the premier alternative newspaper in America. She is one of those people of uncompromising passion, which comes through so clearly in Some Feet Not Meant for Shoes. There is no doubt that Pam is a fine writer, even exquisite in spots. But what I was drawn to in her book is the risk-taking -- the capacity to throw fear aside and dive deeply to experience feelings, people, and events in a way where there is no mistaking their authenticity -- and their danger. As Pam says: "In art there is room for things that in life are forbidden. That is why I wrote fiction, for the space to dream. I disrupted everything in my life for something that I feel is so important."
In a somewhat autobiographical journey from the hip early '90s in LA where she can't quite uncover her true self, to the exotic islands of the West Indies, the protagonist Norah has the strength to follow her calling in go deeply into questions of race, colonialism, science, culture, sexuality and myth. In the book, Norah explores the culture and mysteries of St. Lucia, Martinique, Guadeloupe and Dominica, places visited by Klein, who eventually, in real life, settled down and rehabbed a house with her family and lives in St. Thomas, while she toiled on the book for five years. (She now lives in Puerto Rico.)
As one of her reviewers, Jocelyne Costa writes, the book, "tells of people's journey through life and is about the meeting of souls. . . More broadly, it reminded me that the psychological inheritance of a nation's or of a group of people's past deeds affects future generations, how the wound is not only personal but also collective. How we, as individuals, can atone for past hurts and contribute to the healing process for ourselves and of course for others since, eventually, we are one nation, one soul."