Looking Back at Ted Mooney's Author Chat in LibraryThing, Discussing The Same River Twice




Now that I'm about halfway into The Same River Twice (TSRT), I'd say Ted Mooney's work here belongs to that similar literary river, if you will, as what you describe going on with Conrad in Heart of Darkness. There's levels and layers and hidden passageways (if not TSRTs Paris sewers per se) leading to the themes and subtexts; and to a point, it's up to the reader to decide how much they can decipher when discovering that word or turn of phrase or descriptive which, when unlocked, opens that trapdoor descending into deeper corridors of meanings and motifs.

On the Seine River's surface, TSRT is a convoluted and complex mystery crime thriller involving the illegal smuggling of certain Soviet-era artifacts into Paris to be sold as art among Parisian wheeler-art-dealers (or so it seems). Beneath that, something else is going on. A lot of something else is going on! But what? Aren't you going to tell us, Ted!? Do I really have to read the whole book?

Meanwhile, the marriage between Max and Odile seems fine on that Seine River surface too, but to quote a song from yesteryear, "they're alone and yet together like two passing ships,"* they're not on the same page when unsettling, and then life threatening events, transpire. Odile has her complex of secrets under lock and key. While Max, the auteur, mostly maintains detached, though thoughtful, regard throughout.

The river is seen through fantasy and reality perspectives simultaneously; or, rather: twice, when Max films the possible Nachtvlinder catastrophe of its unmooring in swiftly rising Seine waters (his fantasy being caught on film), and while Groot, being filmed by Max, risks it all -- his hardcore life-and-death reality -- to save the boat. The same river, then, again, is being perceived twice -- completely different perspectives concurrently, one "artful," perhaps less real? -- and one excruciatingly realistic.

Ted, can you comment on how you conceived this dual narrative, and why it was important to you to do so (I mean, besides just keeping us hopefully very careful readers on our toes).

I really like too, Ted, what you're doing with that Chinatown reference. Chinatown, with its obsessions over water and who controls the water and hence has the power over a city's ultimate demise or destiny, could conceivably be subtitled, The Same River Twice, in my opinion, as both titles evince similar, dualistic preoccupations regarding opposite perceptions of that singularly important river central to their respective narratives.

How do these allusions you insert, Chinatown and such, or most obviously, Nachtvlinder, come to you in the course of crafting and drafting your novels?

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Complete discussion with Ted Mooney on LibraryThing.
My review of The Same River Twice.