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The Empty Chair

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In a Bonfire Night vision, television director Steve Penhaligon sees his father, Harry, materialise in a burning chair, and soon afterwards psychotherapist Daniel places an empty chair before Steve, asking him to summon Harry for a reckoning. This uncanny, serendipitous coincidence not only starts Steve on the road to redemption, but also gives him the perfect opening for a film he is formulating, based on his own life. So he deals with the issues of a blighted childhood, a terrible marriage, drink, drugs, anxiety and depression, whilst simultaneously fashioning the material into a screenplay.

The process proves long and epic, taking Steve out of the 1980s and through the ’90s, where his love life and career improve, and he gets to direct an episode of Inspector Morse, before entering the world of feature films. As his initial goals become more palpable, Steve moves towards a reconciliation with Harry and the creation of a celluloid ‘fairytale of psychotherapy’ to reflect the happy event. But if and when he succeeds, how true will his version of his life really be?

Roger’s latest novel is a blending of the genres historiographic metafiction and autofiction. It sets a personal story of psychotherapy and a troublesome father/son relationship against a carefully detailed cultural background involving British film and TV from the 1980s onwards, looking at the changes in media life, the productions, their methods and the technology involved as the Digital Age comes into being.

Political change also features, as the reign of Margaret Thatcher peaks and gives way to that of John Major and eventually Tony Blair. As in Roger’s previous books  The Mad Artist and Literary Stalker  the layering of narratives plays an important part, with the act of storytelling taking centre stage.
Copyright © 2004-21 Roger Keen. All Rights Reserved.