Reading Matters

Novelist Raymond Barfieldoff to Ireland to play guitar, run, write

Novelist Raymond Barfield (“The Book of Colors”) says it’s very hard for a physician to stay in shape. The Duke pediatrician and philosophy professor has finally found two back-to-back months in which to escape to Ireland to work on a new novel, “Passionflower,” and to get in five or six miles of running each day.

He’ll be staying outside Dublin, with a jazz sax musician and a banjo player. Barfield himself has been working on some guitar pieces by Tommy Emmanuel, Jon Gomm and Michael Chapdelaine. So when the day’s writing stint is done, he says, he hopes to spend the evenings playing music.

What fascinates me is what Barfield says about “Passionflower,” his novel-in-progress. It’s the first thing he’s ever written in which a doctor shows up, and this doc, he says, is “a mess.”

“So it’s hard for me to write,” he says, “and there is a fair amount of sadness around themes of love, loss and death in his life.”

And get this: Barfield says he’ll head to Cinque Terre in Italy for a good chunk of time, “based on a hunch that there is something there I am supposed to find to bring the first draft of ‘Passionflower’ to some resolution.”