Monday, March 10, 2008

Brad Thor Solicits Death Threats

Thrillerist Brad Thor’s new book, The Last Patriot, will be published July 1. His idea is to suggest a what if scenario: suppose the Prophet Mohammed received one last revelation that wasn’t included in the Koran, and he was assassinated by his associates to keep him, and the inconvenient revelation, quiet. But the document is discovered with earth-shattering consequences.

TV/radio personality Glenn Beck interviewed his pal Thor and suggested he might receive death threats or be assassinated as a result of this novel. On his Amazon page, Thor markets the Beck interview and prominently advertises Beck’s remark:
Glenn believes I may just see my fair share of death threats over this book.

I can’t say I agree that the plot, from what I’ve read about it, is cause for any undue alarm, although one can’t presume to penetrate the minds of fanatics. But it is an unusual approach to thriller marketing to suggest that the plot is so incendiary a fatwa or assassination attempt on the author isn’t out of the question. It should prompt a few more people to buy the book, and push it to the top of the bestseller lists. Thor’s what if plot sounds rather tame, and it seems Mohammed is portrayed as a good guy murdered by bad people, but then I haven’t read the book yet.

Thor sounds like he would actually welcome the notoriety that comes with a death threat. He seems to be almost soliciting one with the assistance of his buddy Beck. It would do wonders for the sales of his books, which are already quite popular. Without doubt, he wants potential readers to think this thriller will outrage the radicals and terrorists. By inserting this idea of death threats prominently on the internet, it is presented not only for the edification of potential book buyers, but for radicals to ponder as well. Now they are thinking, Does this guy really deserve a death threat?

Salman Rushdie famously was slapped with a fatwa on his life as a response to the publication of Satanic Verses, so death threats for writers are a real concern.

Will an author be killed for writing a book about Mohammed? Is the Muslim world ready for books casting doubt on the official version of the creation of the Koran? What about a book with Mohammed as the first-person narrator, similar to Norman Mailer’s The Gospel According to the Son narrated by Christ Himself? How will the Muslim world react to this upcoming clash with western writers that don’t view the Koran or Islam with a Muslim eye? Mohammed’s life and thoughts from a western Christian perspective: is the Muslim world ready for books such as these that I think surely will be published over the next decade? Books will be written doubting Mohammed’s sanity, his spirituality, his motivations, his sexuality, his specialness. It’s all coming to a bookstore near you soon. If Muslims don’t like cartoons about their Prophet, imagine the reaction when bestsellers like these hit the shelves, with the entire world talking about them. How far can writers go before someone takes a bullet?

Thor’s new thriller is another step along this inevitable path. The whole thing reminds one of a Greek tragedy somehow.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Triple

The idea of the Double, or Doppelganger, is well-trod in the world's literature. For example, Dostoyevsky’s novel The Double describes the psychological trauma of Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, who believes he sees someone who looks exactly like him. Then there is Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the tale of one man with two divergent personalities. Vladimir Nabokov’s Despair is narrated by Hermann Karlovich, who falsely thinks another character looks like him, but that character doesn't really and is a false Double. Jorge Luis Borges’ short story, "The Other," has Borges meeting a younger version of himself.

No doubt there are many more variations a writer could play on this theme, but it led me to wonder why stop with just a Double? And it led me to conceive of a new literary device never before considered in all of the world’s literature: the Triple.

The Double usually works against the person he mirrors; I'll call that person the Single. So the Double has come to be seen as an evil entity. I'm not really convinced anyone has really seen his own Double, so this entire concept thrives in the world of literature and the arts in general rather than in real life. However, we can think of all people as Doubles, since "all men were created in the image of God." So we are all Doubles of God, but falling far short of His own nature and often working against His own ideals.

I envision the Triple as something close to the opposite of the Double (I delineate his attributes here as much as I can for the edification of future fictioneers--myself included). The Double, in the final analysis, is an enemy of the Single. The Triple, conversely, is a friend, and serves to thwart the Double. He assists the Single. However, the Triple can’t be “called upon” or conjured up whenever one wants. I see him as somehow at a distance and the Single has difficulty getting near him--almost as if the Triple exists on a semi-spiritual plane. He is always traveling on the edge of the horizon, making his presence known but remaining beyond any grasp, forever protecting himself by maintaining his safe distance. But even so, the Single can sense his true nature, which is to assist him in his battle against his Double. Both the Double and the Triple physically resemble the Single, and the only way to tell them apart is the fact that the Double usually has some kind of expression on his face or says things that only a scoundrel would say or do. The Triple comports himself in a much more gentlemanly way, and serves as a balancing force for the Single, who becomes imbalanced by the actions of the Double.

But if there can be a Double or a Triple, then it follows that the mirroring can be infinite: a Quadruple, a Quintuple, etc. Each nothing more than the reflection, the shard, of someone else's personality. To stop at the Double seems to ignore a potential army of reflections that possess some definable attribute of the Single.

I think there must be a few good novels on this theme.