No Predicting Where Research Will Take You

I just finished making notes for a major, major revision of The Warden. It’s basically a good story, but there have been problems with it that I couldn’t resolve. It still won’t come out of the back of the drawer for a while, but at least it will be ready when I have the time for it.

What brought about the change was a book that I haven’t even read yet. I just ordered Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. It’s been on my wish list for a long time, but some vague impulse made me start reading reviews and excerpts, as well as the TOC and a little bit of the first chapter. Actually, the impulse probably came from thinking about a recent act of the FBI. A long-ago Black Panther who was imprisoned and escaped, and has been living in Cuba for many years, was just elevated to a list of most wanted terrorists. Why a 65 year-old-woman is suddenly a most-wanted terrorist has been a subject of discussion on the net.

My own feeling, which is apparently in line with some analysts, is that it’s part of the government’s need to keep the public in a state of hysteria about terrorism. Another thought that occurred to me this morning is that it’s a demonstration of the government’s long arm, and its equally long memory. And those are topics I want to deal with in my fiction. I have a feeling that Foucault’s book is going to be pivotal for my future work.

It’s a long way around to revising a novel, but you never know what will come out of any particular bit of research.



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