Genre: New Adult Literary Fiction
Word Count: 110,000
Pitch: An Algerian painter lures a 22-year-old art scholar to the Parisian catacombs, plunging him into a black market for ancient art, a haunting infatuation, and the schemes of a genteel megalomaniac.
Before the devil led him to the Aegean Sea, and long before the soaring visions of his old age, he fell in love with an artist by the Seine. On that evening she knelt at the western point of the Île de la Cité, touching a shaft of charcoal – dark as her complexion – to an easel. If the Parisian winter could take form as a woman, he’d found her there, nestled beneath the March wind that lifted her hair and brushed away the residue of her drawing. He was young then, Gerald Syzygy, an oversized coil of wanderlust and infatuation, studying abroad for his senior year; and he couldn’t look away from the artist as she recreated the Pont des Arts, its trelliswork and pedestrian kiosks, the streams of people mingling there.
When she shifted to her hip and dared him with her eyes, holy shit, he thought, and missed a note on his harmonica. The other buskers broke off laughing and covered for him.
He hardly knew them during those eight weeks but he often joined their circles at the Vert-Galant or by the steps of Sacré Coeur, adding his harmonica to their guitars, flutes, and concertinas, their woolen hats and frumpy clothes of that year, 1996. The best place of all, for him at least, was the muted still point on the rim of the island, where the air compressed their random melodies, never quite repeatable, but often with an idée fixe of Dylan tunes.