Exit: A Novel
by Liliana Badd
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EXIT, my latest novel is a landmark in my life. It took me three years to achieve it. For three years, I lived as secluded as in a convent. Thinking and living with the characters, in a parallel world...My mind was asking them questions, they seemed to talk in their own voices, and my mind was listening to their stories, imagining we were on a huge theatrical set; they were the narrators, I was the director, and the audience was the world.
When EXIT was finished — I understood the secret of the SECRET. Exit is a symbol... we enter and cry, and that is life; we cry and leave and that is death. We are not born equal... yet, there comes a moment in our lives when each one of us will have to face the EXIT. At that moment we become equal... and there will be one question for all of us, without exception: "What have you done with your life?" I do not want to have to answer, "What a fearful thing is to reach the end of life and think I have noting to account for except a thin veil of confused images signifying nothing but wasted opportunities." (Exit, page 263).
EXIT is the story of a woman's metamorphosis; finding her true self through her incurable illness; after having been the perfect mother and wife, Ondine breaks the chains of her absolute solitude and becomes the real woman; the woman she was meant to be. Ondine, has dreamt of becoming a writer and has never had a chance to fulfill her dream... it is the illness that will spectacularly open for her the door to her dream...being Ondine; the painful process of becoming a writer... becoming aware of the cruel realities of life. Awakening.
Exit is also a powerful social novel - about passion, compassion, and mostly social generosity and sharing... so rare nowadays... in a society obsessed with the idea of an instant success... fearing to admit that failure is an intrinsic part of our tribulations in the space called Life.
What is a writer? A writer is a foreign country. Why does one write? For whom does one write? You write, that's all. And people read you. You write for the people who read you.
And I have also understood that as a writer, I am not allowed to hold back anything from my readers; should this be painful, embarrassing, joyful or sad... I have to deliver to my readers the whole truth about my soul and mind. I am not ashamed to state that my life has been like a roller coaster: a succession of failures followed by success... and then back to failure...and back to success; the power lying in the balance, we are our injuries as we are our successes.
You, my readers, please feel free to ask me any questions... I will answer to you, truthfully, humbly... without reticence.
* * *
... "Since my illness, I have had some real challenges. I perceive the rigorous succession of circumstances. I trespassed across the borders of my former life; I crossed the seas, left cities behind me, followed the course of rivers or plunged into the desert, always making my way toward other cities; I affronted death... I allowed other men to touch my body; I met men and women and listened to their stories; I stirred controversy and passions; and all that led me - where? To understand that to live is to be marked, to see life in the present tense. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story and this is the only celebration, we, mortals really know. The words of a story. Still doubting..."Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before."' (Edgar Allan Poe)
The collection of paintings made by the painter Alexeï Vorontziev, Ondine's lover, becomes a key element in the plot of the book. It will affect Ondine's destiny in a spectacular way.
"... The papers were largely talking about Alexeï's latest paintings, which the Apollo Galleries were displaying. It was his first exhibition in Paris, and it was acclaimed as a smashing, fulgurant success. The undisputed recognition of his immense talent. The paintings portrayed a series of nudes of a blonde-long-haired young woman with silk-like complexion and dark emerald eyes, the same ethereal woman in different positions, her extreme refined femininity audaciously sparkling under different angles of filtered light, a subtle explosion of light, color and exquisite sensuality, seventeen oil paintings on oversized canvases, regrouped as a collection entitled Iridescent Rays Caressing my Beloved Muse. Alexeï attacked the canvases with violence, he practically raped them, as if he had discharged his frustrated feelings with an energy that translated in the finished work as pure passion, and imbued them with its considerable force. Those paintings seemed to have been made by an artist whose tormented passion had been drained from his soul like oil from the sump of an engine. They were lyrical and extremely sensual. Sublime. An obsessive question unanimously besieged the minds of the spellbound journalists: "Who was his model? Who was his muse?"
My head was mercilessly throbbing. I was heavily sweating with chills. My body was cold, my mind drained. Outside, the rain mixed with snow was again pouring down. When I finally arrived at Doctor Veil's office, I was overwhelmed as if I had risen from the grave. I was shipwrecked far from the sea, on land..."