As the launch of Fall in One Day gets closer (May 25), I have been reflecting on the release of this book into the current political climate. The phrase "political climate" is a nice way of saying, what in the freakin' hell is going on in the U.S.?!!! (insert your own exclamation points and swear words here).
As I wrote Fall in One Day, the theme of "truth" emerged in the novel – I'm fairy sure I didn't start there (it was a long time ago), but as I explored both the main character's (Joe) family, his politician father, and most of all the year of Watergate, 1973, I realized I was talking a lot about truth.
What does it mean when people in power lie to us? This happens, and has happened, all over the world - and so much so with the sitting, Orange Cheeto, president, that it has become numbing. I really appreciate movements of resistance that refuse to just let things go unnoticed. Even unnoticed is an understatement. A lot of people are collectively saying, can you believe this bullshit? And no, you can't.
This is one of themes that undergirds the novel. As I've said before on this blog, and lots of others have too, Watergate was a watershed moment for a lot of reasons - and it doesn't surprise me that is has stayed in the collective consciousness for more than 4 decades. It wasn't the first time politicians lied, that goes back to before Caeser. But the medium of television came more and more into our lives, which exposed the deceit, the corruption, the truthiness... okay, the outright lying our asses off nature of the president, Richard Nixon, and all those that surrounded him.
It was a moment in North American history (because it really affected us in Canada, even without the 24 hour news networks), and world history – although, stories moved a lot slower then. As an example of the speed of news in the 1970s, during one of the last edits of the novel, I brought in the concept of the Stockholm Syndrome, and how one of character might be experiencing it. I did some research to find out when this term was coined. I found out it was in 1973 (go figure - this is something that happened to me continuously while researching and writing the novel - a series of coinciding events gathered into one time and place).
But then I had to ask - would the characters living in 1973 have heard of the syndrome enough that it would enter the collective lexicon? Again, news travelled a lot slower before CNN and Twitter. The hostage taking was in the summer, August, 1973, and Fall in One Day begin in the same month and year. It was an interesting thought experiment for me, to consider what it was like to not know of international events the same day, or hour that they happen.
I digress. But not on the truth.
The lens of Joe on his local, national, and somewhat, international world was one of wonder. That might not be the best word for it, as this suggests awe of something that is beautiful and inspiring. No, this was more a wondering of what is true. If those people we trust enough to elect are being dishonest, then where else is their dishonesty in my life. In other words, who is lying to me?
Trump, Spicer, Bannon, Conway, and the whole lot are continuing to push on this. Who is lying? Everyone. But who cares? Well, there's the problem. We all should. Not just at a political level, but a personal community level. I really value honesty in others (in fact, ask my kids the one value that was drilled into them from an early age: no matter what you did, you were always going to get into more trouble lying about it.)
As new readers come upon Fall in One Day - especially when it is released into the world - I am very interested to see if this exploration of truth is something that tweaks a wondering in them. Don't get me wrong, this novel is far from an essay or a diatribe on anything. But I believe fiction teaches us in a different way to view our world. And hopefully, it helps us to explore and try to understand who is telling the truth.
Thanks for reading.