Saturday, December 22, 2007

Spy Novel

“My goal was to write the most realistic spy novel that had ever been written”

The New York Times has a story about an upcoming spy novel from a former CIA officer, Joseph Weisberg:

To heighten authenticity, he redacted parts of the book, inserting black bars that concealed the names of countries, the particulars of tradecraft and other details that might be classified information, if the story were true. Even the names of two people in the acknowledgments, whom the author thanks for having “trusted me with their story,” are blacked out.
And from the first chapter:

Several months before I was scheduled to leave for ❚❚❚❚ , I was assigned to the ❚❚❚❚❚ office in ❚❚ Division. Depending on scheduling and other bureaucratic considerations, new case officers ❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚ . In my case, I was shipping out in August, so I would be in ❚❚ for most of the summer. It was a busy time in ❚❚❚❚❚ , but the officers running country desks liked to handle their own work. They'd give me an occasional name trace to run, or have me coordinate a cable with another division. But I wasn't busy. I'd read the morning traffic cables from the stations in ❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚ , and what ever ❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚ traffi c was coming in. I'd stop by my friends' offi ces throughout the building or meet them for coffee in the cafeteria. And one or two days a week, I'd take care of various tasks I had to accomplish before going abroad, like ❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚ and getting my final medical clearance.

It's a clever gimmick (not, however, the first time a book has been printed with redactions; see Valeria Plume's book published this year), but without reading the entire novel, I'm not sure it will work. This is the type of thing that might be sustained only in a short story.

One Other Book-Related Item:

  • Published in a couple of weeks ago in the New Yorker, Jonathan Lethem's humurous short story, "The King of Sentences" -- worth a read.

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