New York City: 2010. When a bomb goes off above Barney’s high-end department store the city is in shock. In David Goodwillie’s debut novel American Subersive (Scribner, April) Aidan Cole, a failed journalist turned gossip blogger receives a mystery email. Attached is a photo of a beautiful woman obscured by dark sunglasses and the chilling words “This is Paige Roderick...she is the one responsible.” I recently called Goodwillie before his book tour of the Midwest, America’s “Heartland” to chat about bloggers, babes, bombings and the influences behind his fascinating fictional world.
Royal: In your memoir, Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time, you talk about the impact 9/11 had on you. How did that play out in American Subversive?
David: I didn’t want to write a book about 9/11. Maybe it’s a post-post 9/11 book. Fear and NYC media swim in the same pool. But, I wanted to move on. American Subversive deals with a different form of terrorism.
R: Have you ever considered terrorism as a day job?
D [laughs]: The novel is about two characters on the fringes of our generation. I was in the middle. I do care unlike Aidan, but I don’t go to violent protests. I don’t think it’s the answer. I’ve done a ton of research on the Weather Underground. That’s where it stopped.
R: There’s definitely a glamour attached to terrorism. Why do you think so?
D: Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers from the ‘60s. They were good looking, Ivy educated hipsters. They had orgies, dope smoking, people on the run. There’s always been a Bonnie and Clyde vibe, while fixing the ills of the world in dramatic fashion.
R: You finished the novel in France. Was it necessary to leave America to complete your book?
D: I’ve lived in New York for fourteen years and I love it because I have a house swap in Bordeaux. Parts are very insidery when it comes to New York media. I go to the parties my characters went to. It’s great to get out and see that the world doesn’t really care.
R: Is the NYC high-end party circuit so different from a terrorist cell? Same power plays and hierarchy?
D: Everyone makes fun of the incestuous media world. But the people writing and reporting have power. That’s where you’re getting your information. The thing about the media world is no one knows anyone’s real importance anymore. The major breaking news story of the day is gotten by a gossip blogger. I don’t think anyone really knows where we’re headed.
Check out David's first reading from American Subversive next Thursday April 22, 7:00 pm. Barnes & Noble Tribeca, 97 Warren St., NYC.