7. Tell us about the title of the book: We Rose Up Slowly?
There is a famous 1964 pop art masterpiece by Roy Lichtenstein, called ‘We Rose Up Slowly’, painted in a comic book style with two blonde, all-American lovers locked in a passionate embrace. The side panel reads: “We rose up slowly…as if we didn’t belong to the outside world any longer…like swimmers in a shadowy dream…who didn’t need to breathe…”
Lichtenstein's painting shows an idealised view of young love, detached from the laws of nature and capable of extraordinary things.
The stories in Jon Gresham’s We Rose Up Slowly counter Lichtenstein’s image of heightened romance. These stories explore and play with concepts of the romantic ideal versus reality.
Instead of steady progress to a state of bliss, clarity and belonging, many of the characters in the short stories in We Rose Up Slowly are mixed up, imperfect, lonely, disoriented and unable to connect. Most of these characters possess an intense feeling of belonging elsewhere and/or a desire to be somewhere else.
Not all of us rise up – not even slowly. Caution curbs adventure and fear limits progress. Most of us lack agency and are are quite passive a lot of the time. Real life is crap some of the time for most people. But then there are moments when you feel alive.
We Rose Up Slowly is the book for those trying to chase those moments.
In We Rose Up Slowly, some characters do manage to rise up, escape and achieve a greater sense of clarity and beauty (We Rose Up Slowly, Rashid at the Sail).
All the protagonists in We Rose Up Slowly change, but several find their world disturbed and their epiphany is a painful state of self knowledge (A Long Bicycle Ride into the Sea, Death of a Clown, Idiot and Dog), or a visceral, intense horror (Walking Backwards Up Bukit Timah Hill, The Finger).