About this Project
Regarding My Predecessors
The Brothers Karamazov appeared in sixteen installments in The Russian Herald over a period of almost two years, January 1879 to November 1880.
In 1855, Herman Melville published Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile in a series with Putnam Monthly.
Around 1855, Edgar Allen Poe published the first parts of his only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, in installments of The Southern Literary Messenger.
~The Publishers of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine are happy to announce that they have completed an arrangement by which they will receive, regularly in advance of its publication in England, the sheets of the New Novel of Mr. Charles Dickens, to be entitled “Bleak House, or The East Wind.”~ (This advertisement appeared on the back cover of the 1852 Harper’s New Monthly Magazine issue.)
Regarding Origin~a novel in installments
Origin is a complete novel, finished in 2007. I present it here, in installments, to satisfy the many requests I have received from people who want to read it, to incite literary conversation and collaboration, to crest some newfangled waves of publishing. This is not a blovel or a traditional blog. This is the publication in installments of an existing text. (Excerpts from this novel have previously been published in Tarpaulin Sky and upcoming in Drunken Boat. Thank you!) I have found this book quite difficult to excerpt, and this publication is the result of that difficulty.
Why Should You Collaborate with Me?
A) Why not?
B) As a teacher and advocate of artistic community, I am witness to the fact that conversation and collaboration is one of the most valuable (and exquisite) human occupations. In this interest, you may respond in the comments box below the posts, and I have created a space for more elaborate responses on the Origin by Elizabeth Rollins Facebook page. I have chosen to use Facebook for this forum because many people, including my mother, already know how to post and link and respond using this mode.
If an installment reminds you of a kind of music, a photograph, or a video, please post a link to it. If an installment drives you to make artwork or perform, write poetry or prose or any hybrid creation, please post it so that others can be regaled, delighted, infuriated, or otherwise instigated by your splendid mind.
Spoiler Alert: If you’re the kind of person who hates finding things out in a random order, you should beware all of this stuff, and read the installments quietly to yourself.
What’s Your Deal, Anyhow, Rollins?
I am the author of three manuscripts, all of which are available for publishers to fall in love with and publish in an old-timey format. There exists a collection of short stories, The Sin Eater and Other Stories, the first novel, Origin, and a recently completed second novel, Doctor Porchiat’s Dream.
Over the past year, a group of friends has been reading and passing around the sizeable Origin manuscript. The resulting conversation, excitement, and pleasure in sharing inspired me to DO SOMETHING about getting it “out there.” This is the SOMETHING that ensued.
Portions of my other work can be accessed on my website: Madame Karamazov Presents: The Fictions of Elizabeth Rollins
Origin took a long time to write and has needed steady readers and faithful advocates. In no particular order, these are the names of the kind-hearted people who: fed, heartened, loaned, read, housed, encouraged, listened, inspired, printed, rooted: Cyane Tornatzky, Felicia Carter, Tommy Creegan, Valerie Dolphin, Kathleen Wallace, Sy Platt, Linda Figliola, Mary Page Jones, Bob G. Jones, Beth Laking, Selah Saterstrom, Christine Simokaitis, Joan Powers, Marilyn McLatchey, Ellen Orleans, Susan Newell, Dawn Paul, Kirsten Rybczynski, Debra Sachs, Marilyn Keating, Kevin Monko, Raymond Rollins, Christine Rollins, Jhenn Watts Pillsworth, Kristen Nelson, Timothy Dyke, TC Tolbert, Julia Gordon, Tony Dees, Jill Brammer, Noah Saterstrom, Jessica Eichmann, and those whom I have forgotten to mention because life is so long. And Ben. And Ben. And Ben. And Ben.
This book is for Ben.
This encapsulates the story.
Don’t read it if you don’t want to know!
Origin is a mythic story set in the 18th century, told by the descendants of a small, secret settlement. The settlers, a mix of educated city gentility and hardscrabble lowlander fishermen, have fled political and religious repression to create a new society on an undiscovered island. What they realize is that the greatest difficulty they face is not merely physical survival, but the navigation of each settler’s personal history and beliefs.
Origin traces the evolution of this well-intentioned experiment, as well as the unfolding life of its firstborn child, Sillith Wharsh. The novel opens with the arrival of her parents, Paramon and Leena Wharsh, an ethical idealist and his artistic, pregnant wife. Paramon learns early on that his dreams for the settlement will require unimagined sacrifice when Leena dies in childbirth. Insnar Leggith, a fisherman liberated from the constraints of a harsh religious order, is overwhelmed by his newfound freedom and abandons his family to the settlement. Leggith’s wife, Annak, descends into madness, exposing the settlement’s neglect to govern itself and leaving her children psychologically orphaned. Mithic Tallo, a cartographer haunted by a terrible deed, is enraged to find that he is superfluous on the island he discovered. The first outsider, a sailor, arrives and becomes an integral part of the community, and because of this, the settlers fail to make preparations against other outsiders who might threaten their claim.
From these dreamers and scoundrels comes another generation. Leggith’s eldest boy becomes the malevolent leader of the frustrated and idle settlement sons. In other families, a son leaves, a daughter turns to drink, a boy grows cruel. Sillith grows up a scientific loner challenging the shaky norms that the settlers live by. She takes a lover out of wedlock and endures a mysterious relationship with the land and the water that will either break her or render her invulnerable. The settlers are astonished when their neglect of conventional law renders them helpless against an invading tribe and the boys’ growing violence. When violence erupts, the settlement suffers betrayal and atrocity at the hands of their own sons, and only young Sillith, as seer and guide, can lead them to redemption.
Origin implies that humanity is neither ancient or modern, but infinitely retold, as each of our lives is shaped by our ancestors’ choices, as well as our own. The details of the story are set in the flora and fauna of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where I spent time throughout my life. Through many odd jobs there, I absorbed the stories of the land’s descendants. These stories inspired me to wonder about all of our ancestors, and the ways in which we are influenced by land and the lives that come before our own.