The Story of the Book Cover

In 2003, a year before I began writing A Song of Ilan, Oppenheimerfunds moved us back into permanent office space in the World Financial Center. Our new offices looked into the pit where our old offices in Tower Two had been. Later that year, in giddy receipt of yet another Russian rangefinder ordered off ebay, shipped from the Ukraine in a brown paper parcel bound with twine, tagged with a Cyrillic-inscribed customs tag, and judged overly surreptitious by the mailroom guy, I shot a roll of T-Max 100 out the window beside my cubicle.

As I was rebuilding my website (this website) in preparation for A Song of Ilan’s release in March, I found this image from that roll and it bespoke the book somehow. In need of a provisional book cover, Debra Di Blasi, my publisher at Jaded Ibis Press, colorized the image and mocked this up. And now the book feels closer and more real.

And as the book’s arrival comes into focus, I find myself with a new clarity about what it might mean to look out of one’s new office into the remains of one’s old office, destroyed by terrorists, and at once want that building rebuilt, and also want it never rebuilt, to want the world to pause and wait and hold still if not forever, at least indefinitely.

I see the cover, and I think about Ilan, who kills to save not only himself but those around him but cannot live with having killed, who is forced to choose between his wife and the god who, if only embraced, could authorize that killing, Ilan, who in the entanglement of that choice, neither yet one thing nor the other, meanders towards immolation; I think about how Ilan is only a character, a construction, my character, and I think that the inquiry that construction allowed me, an inquiry into the collision of violence and faith and text and identity and love, is what I want to say to the linking of the words ‘bombing’ and ‘intractable conflict’ and ‘right to resistance/self-defense.’ And I know that this need’s increase is as unhappy a thing as the release of a new novel is a happy one.

Jacob Paul is the author of two previous novels, A Song of Ilan (Jaded Ibis, 2015) and Sarah/Sara (Ig, 2010), which Poets & Writers named one of 2010’s five best first fictions. His collaborations have led to the fine art books, Home for an Hour (Otherwise, 2014) and Feed Mayonnaise to Tuna (Otherwise, 2016). His work has also appeared or is forthcoming in Hunger Mountain, Western Humanities Review, Green Mountains Review, Massachusetts Review, Seneca Review, Mountain Gazette and USA Today’s Weekend Magazine as well as on, and He teaches creative writing at High Point University in North Carolina.