Thursday, July 07, 2005

meeting Mr. Cassandra

I don't have any great unique insight into what happened this morning in London. This afternoon, though, I did run into Mr. Robert Spirko, author of a thriller novel called The Palestine Conspiracy. I was browsing in the university book store, and Mr. Spirko approached and told me all about his book, which he wrote in the mid-1980s. In the novel he predicted many of the recent disasters of terrorism, but no one was willing to publish it until a few months ago. He came to Kent State's book store to see how it was selling - I guess days like this tend to be good for terrorism thriller novel sales.

Mr. Spirko struck me as a modern-day Cassandra - blessed with great prophetic vision, but doomed to be continually ignored. He explained to me his perspective on the future of terrorism, the need for more sophisticated preventive measures, the increasing ability of terrorists to evade the tightest security. Then he offered to personally sign a copy of his book, at which point I had to awkwardly try to explain that I really appreciated all he had told me, but I didn't want to buy his book.

After all, it was $15. For a paperback. And besides, I don't read thrillers, and there was a blurb on the back by "A New York City book reviewer". No name, no publication, just "New York City" - I would have been only slightly less impressed had he quoted the critical acclaim of his mom. I didn't tell him all this, I just sort of squirmed uncomfortably. I figure that if I start reading crappy thriller novels, the terrorists will already have won.

Mr. Spirko seemed to take it pretty well - he said that writers are used to rejection. Still, I couldn't help feeling bad for him, as though I had just pissed all over his birthday candles. Sorry, Mr. Spirko - please let us know about any future wooden horses you come across!


Anonymous said...

Well, after reading your reply in Urn's journal, I had to drop by here for a quick post. I know we weren't great friends in high school, but I did know you and wanted to say hello.

Patrick Todd

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Heller,

I just wanted to react to your comments on Mr. Cassandra. I have read his book, and for a spy-thriller, it was not only informative from a cultural standpoint, but sensational in terms of his predictions for Palestine and the rest of the Middle East. As for his anonymous testimonials on the back of the book, I imagine Mr. Spirko didn't want to spend time in jail by naming CIA agents, etc., and didn't name the book reviewer from New York City per that person's request. As a literary critic myself, often I choose to review books anonymously from time to time for various private reasons. If I get a chance to hear some of your music, I'll be sure to pass along my comments to the Cleveland Orchestra. But, at least I'll listen to your performance first. You really ought to read his book. It would round you out. As for myself, I don't usually like to piss on careers. Samuel Goldstein, Cleveland, Ohio

Matt Heller said...

Dear Mr. Goldstein,

I sincerely apologize for disparaging Robert Spirko. He seemed like a charming man and I'm sure his works are of great value. If it counts for anything, I think you may exaggerate the power of my blog to sway potential readers. If you would like, though, I would be happy to erase this post.

The library here in Miami doesn't carry any of Mr. Spirko's books, otherwise I would read it and write a proper review. I don't make any claims to being a literary or any other sort of critic, though - in this case, I was just a dumb guy who was buttonholed in a bookstore.

Best wishes,