Reading Michael Ondaatje's glorious new novel Divisadero, which appears in stores next week, it struck me that the following passage could apply to the character of Rainer Maria Rilke in my own novel, Lost Son.
The "old writer," with his bittersweet message to the boy, seems a Rilkean figure.
"When I wrote, the man said, that was the only time I would think. I would sit down with a notebook and a pen, and I would be lost in a story. The old writer, seemingly at peace, thus casually suggested to Rafael a path he might take during his own life, and taught him how he could be alone and content, guarded from all he knew, even those he loved, and in this strange way, be fully understanding of them. It was in a sense a terrible proposal of secrecy -- what you might do with a life, with all those hours being separated from it -- that could lead somehow to intimacy. The man had made himself an example of it. The solitary in his busy and crowded world of invention. It was one of the last things the writer talked to him about."