I don’t remember where I got the image of a rain forest projected on wall. Or a portal to a rain forest appearing on a wall. Whichever it is depends on how you read tales of the fantastic. Part of what inspired “The Green Wall” was the short fiction of J.G. Ballard. I wanted to evoke some of his obsessional mystery, and his fiction is full of mirages and phantom images.
The wall was the wall outside my apartment window in New York (perhaps I was stuck for something to write, looked out the window, and said: what’s out there?—oh, a wall, maybe it has a rain forest on it). The Feast of San Gennaro takes place every autumn in Manhattan’s Little Italy and is little more than an excuse for fairground attractions, beer, and sausages. It isn’t much fun to experience as a resident of the neighborhood.
The art gallery in the story is based on a real place which no longer exists and shall remain unidentified, but I think anyone familiar with the New York art world knows a Hannah Rezinsky. Publishers are kittens compared to gallery owners. I’m glad I never worked for her nor was one of her artists, but I liked her just fine.
I hadn’t planned this when I wrote the story, but when I began working on my new novel, The Painting and the City, my idea for the sculptures of the main character, Jacob Lerner, matched the sculptures I described in “The Green Wall.” Because “The Green Wall” had not yet been published, I added something about Jacob Lerner to it, and incorporated the gallery owner into the novel (which takes place some years after Lerner has moved on to much more stable representation).
This story first appeared in Polyphony 5.