That question becomes clear in Russell Bittner’s new novel:
Thanatos and Eros have been in a death-and-life struggle since the time of the Ancient Greeks—and in our time, they struggle on just as vividly in the minds and hearts of any two lovers. If we needed a demonstration of that fact set in stone, we’d have only to visit one of any number of Europe’s cemeteries to bear witness with our own eyes: Père Lachaise in Paris; Monumentale in Milan; Staglieno in Genoa. The sculpture in each of these final “resting” places is likely to be beautiful young women—many of them semi-nude—conceding ultimate victory to Thanatos, but holding an ever-mournful watch, in marble, over their immediate charge.
(Is it any wonder, by the way, that the French nickname for an orgasm is “the little death?”)
A trompe-l’oeil is a technique used in art and architecture to fool the eye. But in English, it has a further, metaphorical meaning—namely, that which stands in for anything that’s not as it first appears.
Russell Bittner’s new novel, Trompe-l’oeil, is the fictional account of a love affair that springs up serendipitously between a woman on the cusp of middle age and a younger man. Their ‘life and death’ struggle is necessarily chock-full of erotic episodes. But sex is not the crux of the story—it’s merely a by-product of a series of head-games that see the couple romantically launched from New York to Paris, France; to the Cabo de São Vicente on the southeast coast of Portugal; to Rome and then Positano, Italy; to the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea; and then back to New York.
The trip is full of European delights, but Daneka Sørensen and Charles (“Kit”) Addison are no Europe-on-$5-a-day backpackers. She—a Danish ex-pat who reigns over a fashion magazine empire in NYC; he—a fashion photographer with a taste for landscape photography, occasional gardening, and the even less frequent poem … are apparently joined at the hip in more ways than one. By the end of their European excursion, however, both sets of hips are seriously out of joint—as what had started out as a trip through Elysian fields proves to be a slow descent into Hell.
Thanatos and Eros are doing battle in their two heads, and only one of these two ancient gods can survive. A single and perplexing question, however, remains to be answered: WHY? You’ll have to wait until the concluding chapter of Trompe-l’oeil to get the answer.
Trompe l’Œil, by Russell Bittner, is a tantalizingly brilliant story about the human condition. Be ready for the rollercoaster read of your life!Read the book! It might just change your life.
–Lucinda Kempe — fiction writer at large.
Russell currently lives at Donner Summit, California, U.S.A., but his children (and conseqently his heart) still reside in Brooklyn, New York.
Russell’s prose publications have appeared over the years in journals/magazines at: The International Journal of Erotica; The Edgar Literary Magazine; Beyond Centauri; Snow Monkey; Swill Magazine; SEINundWERDEN; Skive Magazine; The Whortleberry Press; ABCTales; The Picayune Literary Magazine; Blue Crow Magazine; and Snow Monkey.
His prose as also appeared on-line at: 3AM; Pindeldyboz; Satin Slippers; DeadMule; Ink-Mag; GirlsWithInsurance; UndergroundVoices; HackWriters; BlueFood; ALongStoryShort; SouthernHum; DeadDrunkDublin; 10,000 Monkeys; Yankeepot-roast; SkiveMagazine; Quintessence; writeThis; SwillMag; SuffolkPunch; MannequinEnvy LauraHird; Per Contra; ThievesJargon; UndergroundVoices; SUSS: Another Literary Journal; Cezanne’sCarrot; Sliptongue; RedPeter; TheSquirrelCage; FarawayJournal; VerbSap; TheRose&Thorn; 3rdActs; CliteratureJournal; TheCerisePress; EclecticFlash; DonovanHall; Dogmatika; DanseMacabre; SuffolkPunch; Writers’BlocMag; and ISMsPress.
Russell’s poetry publications have appeared in print journals/magazines at: The American Dissident; The Blind Man’s Rainbow; The Lyric; The Barbaric Yawp; The International Journal of Erotica; Wicked Hollow; Æsthetica; The Raintown Review; CRITJournal; Tuesday, an Art Project; Grey Book Press; Inkspill Magazine; The Feline Muse; Sonnetto Poesia; and Trinacria.
Other publications have appeared on-line at: EdificeWrecked; ken*again; SpillwayReview; Quintessence; Erotica-readers; Ink-mag; GirlsWithInsurance; Fireweed; ThievesJargon; MadHatter’s Review; ALongStoryShort; LauraHird; SouthernHum; ZygoteInMyCoffee; OpiumMagazine; JustusRoux; PWReview; DifferentVoices; VoidMagazine; MindfireReview; Salome-Magazine; Plum Biscuit (a journal of the NYC Writers Coalition); 3AM; Dogmatika; ALittlePoetry; EvergreenReview; theBreath; Sliptongue; Chanterelle’sNotebook; AscentAspirations; TheLinnet’sWings; 3rdActs; DeadDrunkDublin; The CentrifugalEye; Dogzplot; TheNewFormalist; Per Contra: PartyOfTheFirstPart; DISPATCHLitareview; Litsnack; ClockwiseCat; TheFelineMuse; LucidRhythms; and at theHyperTexts.
Russell conducts monthly interviews of notable Anglo-American poets at ALongStoryShort.net (“Poet’s Corner”). He is a former Philosophy major/Russian minor and acquired his A.B. in 1984 from Columbia University in NYC. He acquired, over the course of a decade, additional certificates of study from, among others: L’Université de Fribourg (CH); Die Universität Wien (Vienna, A); and L’Università per Stranieri di Perugia (I).
His photography has also appeared in various journals and on-line at various sites.