Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Tom is right!

by Rick Blechta

We’re all currently living inside a thriller novel.

If you haven’t read Tom’s post yesterday, you should. He lays it all out very well so I won’t repeat it.

When 9/11 happened, I was north of Toronto, rehearsing with a band I formed back in 1973 right after graduating from university. We had decided it was high time to do a reunion gig and once again play some terrific music in a one-night-only show. Our bass player, who had done very well in life, owned a beautiful compound out in the woods of Muskoka, so we went up there to spend a week rehearsing and enjoying once again being together.

The second day, I was dealing with some business email before rehearsal began when said bassist came in to tell me that a plane had just flown into the World Trade Center in New York City. I came over to the main house and spent the next five hours watching endless loops of the unbelievable collapse of the NYC’s two largest buildings. I’ve always felt it would be the most surreal moment of my life.

A friend who lives near 106th and Broadway had fallen asleep in the early hours of September 11th, 2001, watching a movie on TV. He woke around 10 in the morning to see the news coverage of the attack on the World Trade Center. For several minutes, he thought he was watching another movie. It was only when he heard multiple sirens of emergency vehicles racing down Broadway that he got up and opened his curtains. He could normally see the twin towers at the far end of Manhattan Island.

They were no longer there. He told me later that the hair on his neck stood on end.

I was told of an author — whose name I can’t remember at the moment — who, in the late ’90s tried to sell the idea of a thriller the plot of which eerily paralleled what happened on that day. It even included the attack on Washington, although he had the White House being destroyed instead of the Pentagon.

He was rejected by every publishing house to whom he submitted his synopsis because it was felt the plot was “grotesquely unbelievable.”

Those two words have stuck with me all these years. It so perfectly describes what happened that day.

And now we’re living through something that can also best be described as grotesquely unbelievable. Tom’s post lays it all out. Late yesterday and this morning, it became even more grotesque.

Could anyone five or more years ago have sold a thriller whose plot was what the USA is now going through? I highly doubt it. It’s all just too bizarre, too unbelievable. At their heart, thrillers have to give readers a plot they would feel could possibly happen. Stray from that truism, and your book would not have success.

I spent the first 19 years of my life in the States. I’m still a citizen, but living in Canada — where I am now also a citizen — I can only shake my head in wonder and sorrow at the upheaval that is going on down south. It is like the plot of a completely out of control thriller — unbelievable and jarring. All we can do is helplessly keep turning pages to find out how it all ends.

I fervently hope the ending is a happy one — but I have my doubts.

1 comment:

Thomas Kies said...

Tom Clancy came out with a book, I can't recall which one, where Japan and the USA went to war. At the end, a Japanese pilot for a passenger jet flies it into the Capitol building, killing most of the Senate, the House, and the president. Jack Ryan ends up as President. At the time I remember thinking, this would never happen. And then it did.