Sunday, June 20, 2010

R.N. Morris

Michael Gregorio (the pen name of Michael G. Jacob and Daniela De Gregorio), who live in Spoleto, Italy, recently put some questions to novelist Roger (or “R.N.”) Morris, including:

Michael Gregorio: A Razor Wrapped in Silk--that’s a really great title, Roger. Alliterative, and very seductive. Swishy, like a flashing cut-throat razor blade. Where did it come from? Did you write the story, then search for a title, or was the story somehow inspired by the phrase?

R.N. Morris: The title is a phrase in Dostoevsky’s novel The Idiot. It occurs in a letter written by the complex and troubled Nastasya Fillipovna. The context is quite complicated and I can’t really begin to explain it. Basically, she’s shacked up with this guy Rogozhin, of whom she writes: “I am convinced that hidden in his drawer is a razor, wrapped in silk, like that murderer in Moscow; he too lived in the same house with his mother and had wrapped a razor in silk to cut a throat with.” When I read that I just knew that I had to write a novel called A Razor Wrapped in Silk. I hope the book lives up to the title! Rogozhin does, indeed, fulfill the role she seems to be urging on him, and he becomes her murderer.

MG: Has your “purloining” of it added to, or detracted from, Dostoevsky’s intentions?

RNM: Ha! Good question. Whenever I go back to Dostoevsky, I’m struck by how much more complex, rich, and profound his books are than mine! This is one such case. His psychological depth and insight is breathtaking. But I hope my purloining hasn’t detracted from his intentions. His work still stands, obviously, independent of mine. I’m like a literary flea on a great beast’s back. The great beast continues undeterred. Our intentions are very different. I can say that. Mine are simply to create entertaining mystery stories. That’s hard enough for me!
Read the complete Q & A in The Rap Sheet.

--Marshal Zeringue