There is a legend about a prisoner sentenced to solitary confinement for life. He spent years scratching a boat on the wall with the handle of a prison spoon. One day, they brought him his water, bread, and gruel, as usual, but the cell was empty, and the wall was blank. He had climbed into his scratched boat and floated away.
The novel is a boat. Words have to be revived so the boat can be genuine. So it can be climbed into and float out of this lonely life and go where we are loved and awaited. Saved. Taking me us all my heroes. And the reader.
—Mikhail Shishkin (The Calligraphy Lesson,
‘In a Boat Scratched on a Wall’, p. 169)