Home > Society, United States, Words and writing > “All the Way In,” my novel about Petraeus

“All the Way In,” my novel about Petraeus

It doesn’t look as though my financial situation is going to right itself unless I take action. Let’s see… Oh, I know, I’m a writer, so how about—once again—trying to write a book that will sell? I mull over plot and characters for a few days until I come up with something. I call Rob, my agent.
“There’s this character, let’s call her Paula, a beautiful, ambitious, scheming woman—married, with kids—who manages to gain access to a four-star general in a war zone. This guy, a much admired public figure—also married with grown children of his own—is flattered when she tells him she wants to write his biography. Soon they go for morning runs on which she interviews him. They often continue the interview process under his desk.”
“Why under his desk?”
“I guess it makes things more… intriguing? No? Anyway, the book comes out, a poorly written puff piece. Time goes by, the general is back in Washington as the head of a spy agency. The woman, satisfied with her book sales, the media buzz and her numerous appearances on talk-shows wants to move on. She breaks up with the general but he wants more face-to-face under a desk. He emails her over and over, sending thousands of emails. Paula, no longer interested or still interested…”
“Which is it?” Rob interrupts.
“Not clear at this point. I’ll figure it out later… she anonymously emails another woman, Jill, a Tampa socialite whose family is friends with the general’s family and who throws lavish parties, and tells her that she can see through her little game of trying to seduce the general and she better back off or else. This Jill calls a friend who happens to be an FBI agent to tell him of the threatening emails. The agent, who, by the way, has sent shirtless pictures of himself to Jill…”
“He did what?”
“You heard me. He’s sent shirtless pictures to Jill. Anyway, he talks to a couple of colleagues who start an investigation, looking into the general’s private email…”
At the other end, Rob is fretting. “Why?” he asks once more.
“I don’t know. Security breach, maybe. I’ll find something. But bear with me. Anyway, when these other investigators look into things, they find out about the affair…”
“Which one?”
“The one of the general with Paula. They go to their superiors who decide to pursue the investigation but not tell anyone, not the President, not Congress, until they find out what has been going on. Then…”
“OK, I’ve heard enough. I have to tell you, I have a hard time with this. It’s messy, it doesn’t make much sense—although I have to say some of it grabs you in a weird kind of way. Why don’t you go look at it some more and send me a synopsis?”
“Rob, just give me a few minutes.”
Sigh at the other end and a resigned, “OK.”
“So then the President who’s just been reelected hears about the affair, then the general resigns, then they find out that this other woman, Jill, has been engaged in a big email correspondence with another general who actually replaced the first one in that war zone.”
I’ve known Rob a number of years. We’re somewhat friends—though I don’t think my books have much contributed toward paying for his Red Hook apartment in Brooklyn. I can tell his interest, such as it was, is fast fading.
“What kind of correspondence? Hot?”
“Let’s say inappropriate.”
Rob guffaws and I have a sinking feeling that he’s not impressed.
“How do you people come up with this kind of thing?”
In my haste to wrap up, I’m almost stuttering.
“Listen, just listen! Then the FBI goes to Paula’s house and finds boxes of sensitive documents, classified stuff, that they suspect the first general may have given her…”
“Sorry, you’ve lost me! I hate to rub it in but you’re a literary writer. You should know by now that you’ll never write for the masses.”
I could cry. “You mean, I’ll never make money!”
“I don’t know about that. You can teach. You can learn how to write self-help books. You can work for a corporation. Some writers make money, you know, though not necessarily off books. This yarn of yours, if you let it rest for a few days then go over it, you’ll see that nothing works. The story is not a bit credible. The characters don’t leap off the page, they’re just cardboard cutouts. Four-star generals? Sultry sirens and socialites? Lavish parties? Spy agencies? This has all been done to death… what, fifty years ago?”
He stops, struck by a thought.
“Speaking of which, nobody dies, right?”
I perk up. This may be another chance.
“Not yet. Why? Would it help?”
“Honestly?” my agent says. “Nothing would help at this point.”
And he hangs up on me.

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  1. christian
    November 15, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I 100% agree with your editor, it is a tall tale. But you got talent.
    In France the title of that novel could be “bistouquettegate”

  2. MB
    December 3, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    Life is so much better than the soap operas!

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