In this installment of Page 69,
We put Tod Davie's Report to Megalopolis, or The Post-modern Prometheus
Set up page 69 for us, Tod. What are we about to read?
Pavo Vale, the god man and ‘son’ created by narrator Aspern Grayling, has raped a twelve year old girl: Aurora, younger sister of Pavo’s wife, Faustina, and daughter of Michaeli, Lord High Chancellor of Arcadia. But Grayling can’t let this interfere with his plan, which is to have Pavo and his descendants eventually rule over the entire world of Arcadia and Megalopolis. Pavo has never yet been able to father a child. Grayling yearns for this time to be different.
What is Report to Megalopolis, or The Post-modern Prometheus about?
The Theme? That to treat other beings as mere objects leads to tragedy. The Plot? Aspern Grayling, a scientist, has created the god man Pavo Vale, in a race to conquer Nature, and through her, Death. The force that opposes him: the ghost of the Arcadian physicist Devindra Vale, the only woman Grayling has ever loved.
Do you think this page is a good reflection of the book? Does it align itself with the book’s overall theme?
It’s actually a terrific mini reflection of the rest of the book. I was so pleased when I saw where p. 69 of “Report to Megalopolis” falls! Aurora is the charming child who is everyone’s pet, including Grayling’s. His sacrifice of her autonomy and her sanity in pursuit of his goals sums up all that is confused, arrogant, and ultimately tragic in his story and the story of Pavo Vale.
REPORT TO MEGALOPOLIS,
The Post-modern Prometheus
Of course I had my work before me: to calm the situation, and bring it under control. My control. For this, to aid me, I had Michaeli’s terror of scandal, of losing any kind of face in public. That and Faustina’s fastidiousness, which forbade her from complaining in public of her husband, lest any lesser being insult her with censure or, worse, pity. And Michaeli’s wife, whose triviality and, truth to tell, fear of her magnificent son-in-law made her easy enough to tame.
If I felt any twinge of guilt as I went feverishly to work, it was toward Aurora. Used, as she was, to taking my word as gospel, it was all too easy to beat back any attachment she might have to childish feelings of hurt or injustice. She had been honored by a great man with a passionate love. That was how I bade her look at the matter.
Obediently, she tried. She followed. She stumbled, certainly, on the path, but I was careful to be there to catch her, to hold her up and set her feet firmly back on the path. My path, of course. I always made sure of that.
So sweet, Aurora. Always ready to take another’s view as superior to her own. “I know I’m just a girl,” she would say humbly. “But I think…,” and then, faltering, she would be silent, as if realizing, with true wisdom, that her thoughts were neither here nor there.
She was a jewel, Aurora. In truth, she was now as beautiful and silent as the rising dawn that shared her name.
So silent was she, that it was some time before we—before I—became aware that she was soon to have a child.
I tell you, Livia, my heart was in my mouth when I knew of Aurora’s condition. I acted as the girl’s doctor in all this, so it was I who saw the unmistakable signs before anyone else even suspected.
The girl herself was more and more quiet with every passing day. Though if she knew what momentous happening was within her, she gave no sign, said no word, to anyone.
Rather have Tod read it to you? We got you covered.
Click below to hear her read the excerpt!
Tod Davies is the author of Snotty Saves the Day, Lily the Silent, and The Lizard Princess, the first three books in THE HISTORY OF ARCADIA series, as well as the cooking memoirs Jam Today: A Diary of Cooking With What You’ve Got and Jam Today Too: The Revolution Will Not Be Catered. Unsurprisingly, her attitude toward literature is the same as her attitude toward cooking—it’s all about working with what you have to find new ways of looking and new ways of becoming ever more human. Originally from San Francisco, she now lives with her husband, the filmmaker Alex Cox, and their two dogs, Gray and Pearl, in the alpine valley of Colestin, Oregon.