What do you say or do if you find yourself in a delightful garden cafe in Istanbul, talking to your younger self? — Starting out from a curious encounter, EDEN branches off into deliberately wide and unruly tangents to examine what it is to be human today.
EDEN miniatures are twelve handsome, compact paperbacks which contain all of EDEN by FREI, structured into its constituent parts. (And yes: they are also all available as Kindle and ePub.)
You can read each, any, some or all of them individually, jointly, severally or singly, and in any order: you’ll find self-contained short stories, such as The Snowflake Collector and The Bournemouth & Boscombe Trilogy, poetic prose, such as The Ice King and The Planet Walk, autobiographical fiction, such as The Tape and Encounters, fictional autobiography, such as in Dimensions and Istanbul, philosophical elaborations, such as in Sedartis and Euphoria, and a fusion of all these, such as in Heart and Insomnia.
EDEN continues to be available in blog format from the links above, but if you love your stories as physical books or ebooks to own, or want to give one or the other to someone as a present, or like the idea of collecting them, then you can order them here now: *
“The fact that I fall asleep on the train can easily be explained. The fact that I wake up on the Bosporus maybe less so. But you breakfast where you rise, and it is not for me at this moment to challenge that principle any more than to question the logic that claims to govern geometry or time…”
What do you do if you find yourself miles and miles from where you thought you were supposed to be going, and you realise that the person sitting opposite you at the Limonlu Bahçe, Taksim, Istanbul, is your younger self? Dimensions stakes out the multiple realities that create the settings through which we meander, along our path in pursuit of becoming ourselves.
“Where Laniakea’s fibrous filaments’ ends disentangle from her neighbour’s, to float, as jellyfish through water, amid dark matter in slow, rhythmic pulses, the Space Boy has sought out a moment of respite for comfort and warmth and sat down with me in a Camden pub with a pint each of ale, autumn time.”
The curious Heart – sometimes adventurous, often yearning – latches on to those whom it recognises as good people. Sometimes to no end at all, sometimes to surprising effect, and often just to learn that it doesn’t really understand this universe, nor is it likely to, ever. Stories, impressions and memories, about friendship and love.
“…the snowflakes tumbling from the skies like clumsy, half-frozen bumble bees out of a freezer up in the cloud. There was something in him still that reminded him of the kindness of people, and he let one or two of these snowflakes alight on his hand, and they melted and ceased to exist. How sad, he thought to himself, how just, and yes, how poetic. And he recalled once upon a time being a poet, and that’s when he decided to capture and keep them.”
Withdrawn from the world and searching for a purpose to his existence, The Snowflake Collector discovers a way to communicate his understanding of snowflakes, and in the process reconciles himself with the universe.
“Deep inside the glacier lives The Ice King, supple and smooth. His skin is aglow with the cold, and unbelievably soft. He should be milky white, but there’s an olive tint to his hue, and no sooner do I see him, than I want to touch him.”
The Ice King is a poetic short story about life in a world of the senses and the expanded mind.
“I walk from Neptune towards the sun through the snow – like shooting stars, falling. I love the snow falling on my face as I look up at the sky, at the space, at these planets, the aboveness and the aroundness of it all; the path ahead is white and clear, and there’s no-one about. Of course not: I’m alone. Alone on the edge of the universe.”
The Planet Walk is a poetic perambulation through our solar system, and through the constellations formed by mind, body and soul, in search of identity and meaning.
“I sound to me like any young man from the past. I recognise myself, but in the way that I would recognise a friend from that time, someone I knew, a little. Not someone I knew well, let alone someone I was. I don’t remember the process of recording this, but I do recall having made the tape. The memory is curious, brittle, alien.”
In The Tape, the discovery of an old cassette tape featuring an audio diary prompts the reliving of a train journey across Europe, and a trip into the heart where the growing pains of friendship and loss, adventure and love commingle to tell their own kind of story.
“‘There has to come a point when it stops being about anything, when it just is,’ George tells me, as we climb up the steep, picturesque Yeni Çarşı Caddesi towards the main drag that leads from Galatasaray to Taksim Square.”
Istanbul is the location for an unlikely—though often imagined—encounter between a younger and an older self. It triggers memories, of course, but more than that it prompts a reflection on what it means to love, what it means to discover, and what it means to be.
“I’m not sure I like this about Sedartis. His clarity. His straightforwardness. His unreconstructed linearity. Aren’t we supposed to have moved into the Age of Diffusion? Of vulnerabilities and fluidity, of connectedness, in all directions; of openness and of infinite potentialities? I probably don’t understand him, yet.”
Sedartis is the interlocutor from another reality who—unbidden and welcome in equal measure—looks at this world with a curious mixture of concern, outrage and wonder, and voices about it the things that can be known by anyone, though they be seldom expressed.
“I thought no more of or about it, until it occurred to me that this, probably, is what most of life is mostly about: chance encounters, and where we take them.”
Encounters – recalled, not recorded; random, recollected, perhaps, rather than collected. No system, no method; no categories and no index: just a collation of living done amongst friends who have never really been strangers, who simply had not yet met…
“They’re simple choices, really: whichever version of ourselves we nurture will grow strong. And so I take my leave of Boscombe & Bournemouth and its famous Nude Beach Stroll, on the last Sunday in June. I salute you, good people, there, by the coast: I thank you, you’ve given me much food for thought and made me see my world differently. I do wish you well!”
Two stories and an unexpected link between them make up The Bournemouth & Boscombe Trilogy, about a beautiful place on earth where, like anywhere else in the world, terrible and wonderful things may happen side by side…
“And so yes, here I am, lying awake through the night, wondering about the Rumantschness of it all, with a picture in my mind of a posse of guardian llamas, chilling in the grass, chewing the cud, an air of sophistication about their general nonchalance, and the flock or the herd or the peep they’re supposed to look after just nowhere to be seen…”
In Insomnia, four short pieces take a curious look at the quirkinesses of our existence, from the tentative but thoughtful proposition of a Connexum, to a poetic portrait of The Fire Breather, to a succinct treatise on the problem of the giraffe taking a shower in QED, right through to the paradoxical challenges of sleeplessness.
“I sense the time has come. I trust it now, much more, the sense. All the things I know and all the things I don’t know are the same: they all abide by and reside in me. No words of wisdom, no advice. Let me make my own mistakes. Let sorrow, loss and lingering despair crush me to tears. I won’t protect me from myself: that would be crueller still.”
A chance encounter with a younger self prompts an unruly reflection on not just what lies ahead of this person who should be so familiar, and yet isn’t at all, but also on what, if anything, it might mean now to be human. Euphoria may not be inevitable, but nor is it unattainable, after all…
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