The Prometheus Chord: A Novel

James Earnest Stone, University of Texas at El Paso


The scope of the work began to take shape in the winter of 2014. The initial thought was to write a contemporary update to the Promethean myth from the point of view of Generation-X. Elements of the story also strongly draw from a fusion of influential works from J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye to The Who’s 1973 rock opera Quadrophenia and Wes Anderson’s 2009 film The Darjeeling Limited. The story is framed around three main characters which are tied to larger than life symbolic representations of mankind’s creative endeavors. The protagonist’ mother, Sylvia is closely rendered through a Blüthner grand piano. Elle and Miles are attributed to a vintage Bugatti Royale automobile and the ill-fated Hindenburg Zeppelin, respectively. In the simplest of terms, this is a story about a young boy grappling with his angry youth, the love of a girl out of his reach and wanting much more from his parents. He grows up after leaving home in estrangement and returns a decade later upon his father’s death to face the ghosts of his past. He unexpectedly discovers his mother’s forgiveness and the grace of the woman whom he always loved. In this preface I want to speak about my process and some of the overall thematic elements that I employ throughout this piece. And also, how my belief system, my convictions, my world view and how I think about my place within that framework affect this piece’s poetics, narrative voice and tone. I set out to experiment and explore different narrative types and voices for a telescopic feeling of closeness that the reader will ultimately feel. I utilized humor, some dark and irreverent in tone, to connect my characters to the narrative and did not try to censure or self-edit too much in the beginning. I did not feel that each piece of the story doesn’t have to be resolved, as life itself is very much unresolved until death, but not for those left behind grieving. I prefer events flow and show character interpretations and reactions to those real-time events rather than work to a story resolution. I also want to speak to my character construction and story development techniques within this piece and the many influences that motivated the journey. I have never really been able to produce anything in a linear way. I have always moved and jumped around from beginning to end, to the center and back again. Eventually the pieces become developed enough to fit together. But never in a simple, side by side chronological order. I experimented in many ways to combine and string the pieces together for one linear story. I want to be honest and upfront when I say I do not write with the reader in mind all of the time. In fact, I write more for myself, first and foremost. I write to create a physicality that my mind can grapple with and attempt to order. The overarching theme that runs throughout the piece is a question: can one be forgiven even if things cannot be put back together as they once were? To bring this question forward I force the reader to address subjects such as memory, family illness and death, religion, estrangement and generational differences. I want to see how family and friends cope with these defining aspects of life through the characters. I want to see if they can reconnect and rebuild the bridges that once burnt and ask for forgiveness.

Subject Area

Creative writing

Recommended Citation

Stone, James Earnest, "The Prometheus Chord: A Novel" (2019). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI27671430.