Weighing in at 389 pounds, Simeon Saint-Simone was doing just fine. He enjoyed laying on his cardiac tilt table next to a window facing the sea, gazing at scantily clad young people frolicking on the beach, drinking ouzo, and philosophizing about The Jerry Springer Show with Jerome, a homeless Cuban man he hired to curate his opus, The Garden of Memory, which looked like a cluttered junkyard to his uninitiated and unenlightened neighbors. Unfortunately, when Simeon’s father suddenly dies, his father’s concubine and brother-turned-sister decide to invade his home, disrupting the peace as they argue over the Saint-Simone fortune. Newly qualified to be on Lives of the Rich and Famous, Simeon feels his life disintegrating until he reaches his final, great fall.
I have read and re-read the theater of Raymond Barfield’s The Seventh Sentence and along with its corporeal and unforgettable someone—Simeon Saint-Simone—have sensed that humanity just has to be “divine.” Here the Human Comedy is seasoned to our age of fluid monomania and remorseless consumption with threat and savor, hunger and echoing regret. Raymond Barfield is a philosopher, a Rabelais, empath, jester, pathologist—and one intrepid writer.
on Raymond Barfield
The Book of Colors
“Building slowly but progressively and replete with unexpected everything, The Book of Colors is nothing less than purely original and brilliantly written.”
Manhattan Book Review
“You’ll hear Yslea’s voice long after you’ve stopped reading. … A brave novel, popping with hope.”
The Charlotte Observer
“A life-affirming novel about love and second chances”
“Yslea is a keen-eyed young woman with a wandering mind who picks up on fine details of the little things of life…. A beautifully written debut”
“In the traditions of Toni Morrison and Flannery O’Connor, Raymond Barfield presents a gorgeous and dismaying human tapestry from the edges of Southern society. … An ethereal story of poverty and redemption that ends with a phoenix-like flourish and abounds with grace.”
“Yslea’s world is small, but it embraces an immense universe of wonderments, bright emotions, slant thoughts and patterns that only she can discover. In The Book of Colors Raymond Barfield reveals a story like no other I have experienced, inexorably dark in circumstance but triumphantly luminous in spirit. ‘We are made up of pieces but somehow we feel whole.’ That wholeness is celebrated in these brave pages. They seized upon me like an angelic visitation. What a wonderful novel!”
Fred Chappell, past North Carolina Poet Laureate
“I just finished The Book of Colors. I cried at the end, which I almost never do, not because it was sad but because it was so sweet and clear and beautifully written ... different in a really wonderful way.”
Cathy Langer, The Tattered Cover bookstore
“I was lucky enough to see the first draft of The Book of Colors, and the beautiful strength of both the author and the main character has stayed with me a very long time. Kudos to Unbridled for bringing two powerful voices to light.”
Dreams and Griefs of an Underworld Aeronaut
“These brilliantly crafted poems inhabit a rich space where experience, psyche, myth, and the gem of language intersect. Raymond Barfield invites us to the soulful journey C. G. Jung imagined when he wrote, Everything living strives for wholeness. In reading Dreams And Griefs Of An Underworld Aeronaut we travel beside this poet mindfully searching and pointing beyond by way of his art, grief, faith, and love.”
“Raymond Barfield writes that he just needs ‘room, air, and the unknown,’ but his collection gives us this, and far more. These poems pulse in their textured, sensual language, creating a world chromatic and incantatory, brooding with ‘puppets, shadows and tales,’ tangible and elusive at the same time. These poems draw us in and give us breath.”
“Raymond Barfield circles us through hell in a hot air balloon that doubles as an Italian bagpipe blowing through ecstatic nights of betrayal’s rave.The poet is back to escort us through a nightmare path in chocked terza rima sonnets while a mad dog howls at the moon and a gargoyle croons in the background. Barfield gnaws his pen into flame on the darkness of the white page to perform transfusions that translate hymns of Ars Signorum into your mind. These poems take you there. It is
up to you to come back.”
“In this wonderful book, Raymond Barfield draws inspiration from the narrative terza rima of Dante and from the compressions and turns of the sonnet form to compress his meditations on life, pain, love, and death into 15-line poems that amaze with their range of feelings and their turns of language. The emotional depths and verbal surprises pull the reader forward through Barfield’s
fascinating layers of worlds and underworlds.”
Life in the Blind Spot
"Ray Barfield's poems are hot ice, metaphor and metaphysics. His style is beautifully controlled and then he lets go at just the right moment. Wonderful."
"Raymond Barfield's poems are essential to the age we live in. These philosophically searching, lucidly sensual poems drive at the heart of our understanding. With mindful grace, and 'suspecting / more than the world to be the case', Barfield brings to mind our sense of 'the variations of history', the many signs and moments that flicker and converge in the various single flame of our existence."
"You just have to read one poem... 'Driving'...to realize that Raymond Barfield is a great American poet. You read other poems and you realize that he is more than that. You put the book down and wonder how you ever lived without it."
Wager: Beauty, Suffering, and Being in the World
“You do not have to read this book, but I wager if you do, you will discover you are very glad you did. It is a book of wisdom written by a person who refuses to let how they think we should think and live be determined by disciplinary boundaries. I have a sense this book may become a classic.”
Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor Emeritus of Divinity and Law, Duke University
“Here you will find everything we have come to expect from this extraordinary philosopher, physician, musician, and teacher. Subtle arguments, philosophical erudition, and probing questions are all clothed in a warm and accessible style. We are made to think as perhaps never before about that ultimate risk, the ‘wager’ on God, and the questions that we all send heavenward at some time
or another: ‘Are you there?’ and ‘What if you are there?’”
Jeremy Begbie, Duke University and the University of Cambridge
“Raymond Barfield has written a beautiful, compelling, and absorbing book. What makes it so special is that it is written with intellectual sophistication and yet carries the smooth, satisfying prose of a novelist; that it is fun and engaging and yet addresses the greatest subject of all; that it is inspired by a great apologist from four hundred years ago but is as contemporary as could be. This is a marvelous writer wrestling with the reader, with himself, and ultimately with God: and giving each a profound blessing.”
Sam Wells, Vicar, St. Martin-in-the-Fields
Raymond Barfield is a writer and physician. He has published several books of philosophy, poetry, and fiction. The Seventh Sentence is his second novel.