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Haunting, beautiful and wise, The Badenweiler Waltz by G.W. Kroeker is a tender glimpse at the healing powers of love and one woman's courage as she learns to celebrate life after she is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Elizabeth Kurz is a shy, easily daunted forty-something woman who has spent the bulk of her life being intimidated. A teacher by trade, she always dreamed of being a writer, and as her final farewell nears she travels to a quaint spa town in Germany's Black Forest where both Stephen Crane and Anton Chekhov spent their final days. Believing that even though her talents have not enabled her to live as a writer, she could at least die like one. Upon her arrival she feels alien and out of sorts; dejected, she considers returning to the States until she meets a series of characters who open her mind to new ways of seeing her illness, life, and death.
The Badenweiler Waltz grew out of a very long short story, over 12,000 words, "Crane Chekhov and Elizabeth Pugh," published Bellowing Ark in 1995, which Editor Robert Ward described as "one of the most beautiful and haunting stories I have ever read." The novel, however, is not simply an elongation of the short story, for many changes have been made, particularly structural and motivational, as the central character confronts the reality of her own possible death. The novel's setting and circumstances also enable the author to present to American readers a Germany unfamiliar to most and from a perspective more balanced than that normally found in contemporary American fiction.
The most significant thing about this novel’s coming to be, however, is the role that my now deceased wife played in its development. She encouraged me from the very beginning, for there is a certain risk involved in the structure of the novel, weaving all those short stories into something a reads like a whole. We had long discussions about it before I even began to write, and then she reads every draft, making comments as she did, which we again discussed in detail. She actually read what we thought was the last draft (number six, if I am not mistaken) in hospital, where she died from the complications of breast cancer (which she had battled with grace and strength and dignity for eleven years) in July of 2005. The novel was on hold until I could write again, and then I did one more re-write, thinking that I might have gained new insights in this time of death, grief and renewal. The novel is better for that reflection and the final re-writing.
I am the author of three collections of poetry, Vernal Calibrations (1992, out of print), A Darkness Defined (1994, technically out of print, but I have a few of my own stock), both available as used books or “new” at exorbitant prices on Amazon.com, and a special collection, The Monika Poems (2007), a special edition published as a tribute to my wife, Monika Hasse-Kroeker), available only on my website: www.garysmagi.com. I am also the author of a handful of genre novels that I no longer claim, but also of The Magi at Christmas (1997), which although out of print apparently has a lively sales life as a used book at various online booksellers. The film option rights for Magi were purchased in 2002, but no film has yet been produced.
I continue to write, poetry and fiction, with two major projects underway. The first is the story (non-fiction) of the meeting of my German wife in the summer of 1998, the love story that grew from that meeting, our marriage and my moving to German in 2000, and, of course, her/our struggle with her disease. To borrow Dickens, It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. The second is a story (short novel, probably) about a man who begins to have hallucinations of Jane Austen visiting him, in which they have long conversations. He eventually discovers that he suffers from Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, and . . . Not to worry, I will not spoil it for future readers. And I continue to write poetryalways and forever, the gift that has provided me a way through my grief and sufferingeven though I no longer send much out for publication.
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To visit the Publisher, go here.
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