Galahad’s Fool – a novel of puppets & renewal
Galahad’s Fool is an off-beat lyrical mutt of a novel, seesawing between the mundane reality of backstage rehearsal and the dark fantasy of what’s being created.
A year after the death of his lifelong wife and co-creator Lainie, an acerbic veteran puppeteer struggles to build a solo show. What Albert Fisher intends as a lightweight spoof turns sharply personal, and he labors to birth a raw myth of love and loss.
His aging Galahad, bereft of youthful vision, launches a new quest for the Holy Grail, while his frantic wife disguises herself as their frail androgynous Fool to journey with him.
Albert wrestles with the hero he’s creating, yet comes to see his kinship with Galahad and to face the risk of rebirth.
We know the character of Albert Fisher well, having ourselves worked together since 1960 and toured nationwide as playwright/actors since 1969. The novel is part fantasy, part reality, all arising from the inevitable question: what happens when you lose your life-mate? In Galahad’s Fool, we hope to offer a glimpse of backstage reality unadorned by glitter but blessed with a hardscrabble magic.
[Publication scheduled May 2018. Available pre-publication on January 1st.]
(189 pp., paperbound, $14.95) Pre-Order
* * *
With puppets, the soul is in the eyes. That’s what a critic wrote about the Fisher Folks’ Orpheus twenty years ago. Now, shivering in an April cold snap, Albert Fisher sat at his workbench, groping for a soul.
He finished painting the white of an eye, turned the glass glob between his thumb and forefinger, picked up its mate, and met their gaze: a steely glint of cruelty. He sighed and thumbed the paint off the back of the glass. He’d try again after lunch.
* * *
Here’s the twist. Young Galahad burns with lust for the Holy Grail. When he finds it he’ll be raptured to Heaven, his ashes floating down like fairy dust on a bleeding world. But in fact he never does. Sure, the legends give him angel choirs and ticker-tape parades, but if he had actually found the Grail, it’d be perched in the Louvre or in some Vegas casino.
Instead, Galahad gets older, tires of horsing around, marries, settles down. He’s got this ranch-style castle out in the suburbs, where he sits on the patio with his beautiful wife and grows a belly. Sir Bors and Sir Percival drop in for a poker night. No TV back then, so they just flip on a minstrel, toss a pork rib at him to change the channel, and he sings of his boss’s glorious deeds, as he’s paid to do.
* * *
Suddenly, three weeks till opening: September 7th loomed. Albert saw himself riding the current toward the open whirl of the drain. The months had scattered like the cats when the skunk showed up at the food bowl, and he was still tormenting the script in his head as he repainted the Priest, glued Velcro to the Lost Boy’s backside, and reset the O-ring on the neck of a dragon who’d made a last-minute guest appearance.
Since the play’s first glimmer, Albert had been snapping at its final scene with the frustration of a terrier trying to sink its teeth into a cornered rat. He had the image of a gesture, and it seemed at times that the whole motive for months of toil was to make that gesture. The gesture was Lainie’s reaching out.