The ability for an audience of any kind to separate an artist from his art is one of the most provocative debates of all time. And it is one that continues to insinuate itself into every facet of American culture.
I am reminded of this all the time.
When I endeavor to facilitate the genius of Edgar Allan Poe to students in my American Literature classes, I am invariably and reluctantly drawn into a
polemic about whether or not Mr. Poe was twisted and deranged and should be reviled rather than revered. I believe Stephen King has been subjected to similar criticism. The fact that some author choose to explore the macabre does not automatically render them social deviants. This sort of logic would then force readers to assume that EL
James is into sado masochism in the wake of the publication of the novel “50 Shades of Grey.”
The art world has always entertained this rift between artist and art. The paintings of Pablo Picasso, in particular his Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, have often engendered among some critics speculation and ultimately criticism over the artist’s intention. Is it art, some wonder, or simply the maniacal expressions of a mind both damaged and dangerous? I am not so sure that Picasso’s masterpiece, which explores life at a brothel for five
prostitutes, should automatically become an indictment of his own sexual habits or proclivities.
Even baseball and its athletes are not immune to such conjecture. As a staunch New York Met fan, I have struggled with this very issue each time I watch the New York Yankee captain, Derek Jeter, take the
field. While I loathe with every fiber of my being everything in Yankee town, I cannot help but marvel at and ultimately respect all of Jeter’s accomplishments. He is, undeniably, one of the game’s greats and deserves to be appreciated for
his talent and not vilified for the uniform he wears.
Easier said than done some days.
If time and space permitted, I could list countless
other examples of this conundrum as well, covering film, television, and other artistic mediums.
And now, as I prepare to release my latest
novel, which chronicles the indiscretions of Cameron Baldridge, a high school English teacher, I am left
pondering whether or not I am setting myself up for some very odd looks as I pass through the hallways of the school at which I have taught English for 24 years.
“Nobody Has To Know” is a major deviation from my previous work. It is a dark and somewhat daring
thriller which tells the story of Cameron Baldridge, a popular high school teacher whose relationship with one of his students leads him down an unfortunate and self-destructive path.
Stalked through text-messages, Baldridge fights for his life against a terrifying extortion plot and the forces that threaten to expose him. “Nobody Has To Know” is a sobering look into a world of secrets, lies, and shocking revelations, and is designed to leave the reader wondering many things, including whether or not you can ever really know the person you love.
That being said, I realize that the initial response of one who takes a cursory glance at this might include the raising of an eyebrow and an unkind thought or two, but I must try to set aside any trepidation and cling to the hope that we are enlightened enough as a society to allow a teacher to tell the story of another teacher (fictitious) without impugning his own character. I am waiting with anticipation to see how my readers and my colleagues react to NHTK and to hear your thoughts!