Obviously, as with any novel, there was a great deal of thought as to what to include in Coincidence. But there was also a good deal given as to what to leave out, namely anything to do with foreign affairs. The novel begins more than a year before 9/11 and jumps to a few months after the invasion of Iraq, yet no mention of anything political is made. The closest is a few older gentlemen watching C-SPAN in a Dunkin Donuts.
Given the nature of the novel (the fact that it shows the lives of a number of characters in 2000, 2003, and 2006), it would’ve been easy to show the effects of America’s foreign policy on the common folk. Someone goes to war or has an epiphany watching the news. Hilarity ensues. But, the thing is, I did just that. I showed exactly how these people were affected by our country’s overseas energy expenditures: with complete and utter apathy.
I had a far-left philosophy teacher talking about Bush, the war, and so on in the Spring of 2004 who disagreed when I said the American public wouldn’t react until the war touched a grandma in Nebraska. To someone who subscribed to a number of political publications (and who felt the need to discuss his hatred for Bush rather than anything, say, related to the class’ supposed topic of existentialist writers), the idea of apathy toward our country’s foreign policy just seemed absurd.
But the characters in Coincidence are mostly based on reality, and those people held nothing but apathy. Josh, ten when the towers fell and about to turn twelve as our armies attacked Iraq, is more worried about touching his first breast than anything happening beyond state lines. Chris and Mizdail would only think about it if something usable came face-to-face with them. Ty, I’m sure, was awfully amused by the “heroics” of the soldiers, while Andreas McCombie watched in wonder as so much negativity flowed into the ether.
No one thought twice about enlisting. No one had siblings that ran off in blazes of glory. The closest thing to a military base is two exits over on the turnpike. Very few flew and therefore felt the affects of post-9/11 travel. This may become an entire chapter in American history books, but these characters don’t even mention it. Why? Because they’re completely detached from it. History may write this as a terrible time that affected all Americans; the current media that remain as “classics” by then may reflect that as well.
But an estimated 30,000 Iraqi casualties by April 2003? In reality, in general, many of us simply yawned (at best). To write that our characters trembled as the world burned, to make it seem like they cared at all, would be the greatest fiction of all.
“Tonight these chemicals are sunlight, golden sunlight” – Filter’s “Drug Boy”