Richard Matthew Simpson - Squatters Rites


I hadnít originally planned to write a preface to this work but I have far more memories of the whole experience than I had expected. This is probably true of every passage of our lives: against the background of decades, one period of a year or so may appear as a brief interlude, but if it was truly eventful, once the telling begins, there seems no end to it. A central principle of art is never to offer your public anything that requires an apology, but the length and structure of what follows deserve some explaining.

I mention below that I kept no journal at the time, and the price one pays for this is not only the loss of many small details, but a serious confusion of sequential events. Itís impossible for me to recall anything but the season of most of these moments; in many instances, I seem to have lost all sense of which preceded and which followed. Iíd like to claim that historical cause and effect is irrelevant in a narrative like thisóI think many readers might agree. But in all honesty, I would treasure a written record of my days and nights in that quiet place, although an experienced editor might say itís just as well such a record was never keptóenough is enough.

I will say that Iím consoled for the loss of the sequence by the belief that it would not have dispelled the random feel of the telling; my grouping of events by subject rather than time may replace one kind of randomness with another, but it made an anecdotal approach much easier, and this I find a lot more comfortable. Thatís as close to an apology as I intend to get.

Richard Matthew Simpson
Toronto, June 2005

Chapter One >


grubstreet books
grubstreet books