In Journal of a Novel, Harry Mark Petrakis reveals personal aspects of his life and work. The complex relationship between writing and living is clearly drawn, and we see at work here the process by which a writer turns his raw experience into art.
The creative process is the subject here, begun while he was engaged in writing his historical novel on the Greek War of Independence, "The Hour of the Bell." It shows a writer fully committed to his craft.
"All the years I have lived, loved and written stories," he writes, "have been moving me toward this book that challenges the myths of my heritage."
Journal of a Novel records a writer's daily struggle with discipline and solitude, aging and death. The entries gain an added poignance because they were written while Greek and Turkish hatreds once again flared on the island of Cyprus, and as America endured the continuing trauma of the Vietnam war. These events have their impact on novel and journal, and both become meditations on innocence and guilt, revolution and the longing for freedom, and the brutal inhumanity of war, however just its cause may appear.