On the 1st of April, 1976 – April Fool’s Day – a sign if ever there was one – I left my home in Australia for Paris with the objective of writing a book. Naively, perhaps foolishly, I had convinced myself that Paris was the place, the only place, to do it. I had no idea what I was going to write about when I set out; and in retrospect, I think that I was seduced by the idea of being a writer rather than driven by some idea a-fire within me that I felt compelled to put on paper and share with the world. But some things happened along the way from Sydney – via Hong Kong, Japan and the Trans-Siberian Railway to Moscow, and thence by train to Paris – that provided me with what I felt was a basis from which to start, and almost forty years later, and after drafts too numerous to count, I finally had a volume to which I gave the title The Frailest Leaves.
As it turned out, the story upon which I embarked was merely a vehicle for what I ended up writing about – the internal struggle of an individual who wants to belong but fears commitment; the often stumbling, uncertain process by which a work of fiction is conceived and evolves – or at least, this work of fiction did; and ultimately, the question of whether it is even possible to draw a line separating fact from fiction – the absolute, incontestable truth from what one only perceives as reality.
And in the process of writing, and re-writing, some of the material I wrote was discarded along the way. This volume contains a collection of those leftovers which, in a strange way, and in their entirety, tell the real story of what happened during those two months I spent in Paris. In later drafts of The Frailest Leaves, a number of those passages I had previously excised I reinstated; but to preserve the integrity of this volume, I have retained them here. I apologise for the duplication.