The concept of “unplugging” from the demands of life and society has gained interest in recent years, as many people feel pressured day and night to respond to emails, to be available for work, and to stay abreast of trends.
In his new book, The Bee-Loud Glade, Writing, Literature and Publishing Lecturer Steve Himmer, MFA ’05, explores the concept in a somewhat absurd way: Finch, the main character, is let go from his marketing job but hired by a wealthy man to live as a silent “ornamental hermit” in the garden of the rich man’s estate.
“I was really interested in thinking about solitude and silence and the difficulty of finding that in a very busy life in which we’re always online, always accessible.”
Himmer discovered the historical oddity of ornamental hermits when watching a BBC television show, The Worst Jobs in History. In the Georgian period, the wealthy were known to hire people to live in their gardens. This way, he explained, the employer could enjoy nature by proxy—and not be concerned with getting dirty.
Himmer’s current work-in-progress is very different, centering on dialogue that was necessarily missing from a novel about a silent hermit.
Published by Atticus Books, The Bee-Loud Glade is called a “darkly comic commentary on modern work and wealth.” It will be available on amazon.com on April 4.