The mystery of stories
How Tilly spends a wet, stormy day:

The message in the bottle

Tales of the Firebird by Gennady Spirin

"Maybe every strange, alienated kid is presumed to write, because people had always said to me, Do you write? And up until I was about fifteen, reading was my great pleasure, and I read a lot. When I was fourteen or fifteen, I always carried a talismanic copy of Nightwood or Against Nature with me to ward off evil. I’m no longer sure exactly what those books represented to me, but they were very portable. When I was in high school, all my friends said they were going to be writers. And I thought, How come you get to be a writer, and I don’t? I thought WRITER was written on their foreheads and they saw it when they looked in the mirror, and I sure didn’t see it when I looked in the mirror.

"I always thought of writing as holy. I still do. It’s not something to be approached casually."

- Deborah Eisenberg (The Paris Review)

Philipok by Gennad Spirin

Russian Winter by Gennady Spirin

"A piece of fiction is a communication. You’re sending an urgent message in a bottle from your desert island. You hope that somebody’s going to find the bottle and open it and say, S ... O ... X? No. S ... O ...

"But the message that is found cannot be exactly the message you’ve sent. Whatever bunch of words the writer transmits requires a person, a consciousness on the other end, to reassemble it. You know how it feels when you read something that opens up a little sealed envelope in your brain. It’s a letter from yourself, but it’s been delivered by somebody else, a writer.

"Nothing is more fortifying than learning that you have a real reader, a reader who truly responds both accurately and actively. It gives you courage, and you feel, I can crawl out on the branch a little further. It’s going to hold."

- Deborah Eisenberg (The Paris Review)

The Sea King's Daughter by Gennady Spirin

"I think every work of art is an act of faith, or we wouldn't bother to do it. It is a message in a bottle, a shout in the dark. It's saying, 'I'm here and I believe that you are somewhere and that you will answer if necessary across time, not necessarily in my lifetime."   - Jeanette Winterson

The Children of Lir by Gennady Spirin

The sumptuous art in this post is by the great Russian painter and illustrator Gennady Spirin. He was born on Christmas Day in Orekhove-Zuyevo (a small town near Moscow), studied fine art and illustration in Moscow, and emigrated to the United States with his wife and children in 1992. His many books include The Children of Lir, The Frog Princess, The Sea King's Daughter, The Tale of the Firebird, and The White Cat.

Please visit the artist's website for a full bibliography, and to see more of his work.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Genady Spirin

The Frog Princess by Gennady Spirin