Friday, February 15, 2013

From the shelves of the Paco library



There’s an interesting new book out entitled Che! The Lost Diaries (Amazon link here). It’s the first novel published by David Carter, who, it turns out, lives right here in Fairfax, Virginia. I tracked down his phone number, gave him a call, and he graciously agreed to grant me an interview. We met over a couple of espressos at the local Starbucks, and Carter filled me in on the background of his book. Following is a transcript of the interview.

Paco: Oops! Sorry!

Carter [mopping espresso off his pants with a napkin]: It’s nothing. Do you always get wrist spasms like this when you’re carrying a cup of coffee?

Paco: More frequently than I’d care to admit. Maybe it’s the caffeine.

Carter: Possibly.

Paco: Anyway, thanks for granting me this interview. I read your book in one sitting, and it’s certainly a unique interpretation of Che Guevara. Much different than he’s been portrayed by his hagiographers, or even by some of his severest critics.

Carter: Frankly, I don’t have the talent to do a novel of serious satire that leaves the real subject more or less intact – that is to say, that permits the human target to remain genuinely recognizable as the historical original. My meat is farce, so I lampoon the target – in this case, Che Guevara – by placing him in front of a funhouse mirror. Yet, in an odd sort of way, I believe the reader gets a truer picture than he would if he only knew Che by the descriptions of his fans. My funhouse mirror, to continue the metaphor, throws into relief some of the many faults which so-called legitimate biographies airbrush out. In any event, I freely admit that, to truly enjoy the book, it helps to be able to imagine Che as a kind of revolutionary Bertie Wooster – without Wooster’s charm, of course, and without the steadying effects of a gentleman’s personal gentleman. There is no Bolshevik Jeeves in the novel.

Paco: How did you come to choose Che as the subject of your novel?

Carter: I used to be a regular commenter at a well-known blog, and I eventually moved from dropping a few sentences into the comments section to writing little skits and short stories featuring a variety of characters. My work attracted a small, but enthusiastic, following, so I kept expanding my repertoire. One day, the blogger linked to a story about Che, or maybe his diaries – I don’t remember what it was, exactly – and I was inspired to write a few fictional diary entries as a spoof. These were well received, so I wrote additional diary entries, from time to time. One of the commenters, Richard McEnroe, who turned out to be a publisher, emailed me and asked if I wanted to turn the stories into a book, and…well, here we are.

Paco: Was it a difficult book to write?

Carter: In some ways. For example, Che was such a singularly inept field commander that it wasn’t always easy to satirize him. One or two incidents in the book I thought I had dreamed up myself, only to subsequently discover that they had actually happened.

Paco: Did you do much in the way of historical research?

Carter: A fair amount. I read the genuine Bolivian diaries, and Humberto Fontova’s excellent piece of iconoclastic history, Exposing the Real Che Guevara and the Useful Idiots Who Idolize Him, was very valuable as a source of information on Che’s career and his character. I also found a monograph on Che published by Major Donald R. Selvage of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College to be extremely helpful, with a wealth of details on the Bolivian venture.

Paco: Che portrays the relationship between the guerrilla leader and Fidel Castro to be strained, to say the least. Any truth to that characterization?

Carter: I think so. There’s plenty of evidence that Castro came to see Che as a loose cannon who, among other things, was endangering the Cuban-Soviet relationship. It’s not at all unlikely that Castro packed Che off to Bolivia just to be rid of him.

Paco: On a more tender theme, you posit a sexual relationship between Che and Tania, the one female member of Che’s guerrilla band.

Carter: Yes, I believe there was a sexual relationship between the two. Certainly some of Che’s comrades thought so. Tania was clearly infatuated with Che; however, I think Che simply used her, as he did everybody else. I play their sex scenes strictly for laughs, mostly just to underscore Che’s hypocrisy; he insisted on celibacy for his men during the Bolivian campaign.

Paco: Do you contemplate any sequels?

Carter: Well, prequels, perhaps. Che’s experience in the Congo would seem to be a goldmine of comic potential. I’d also like to write about Che’s initiation into Fidel Castro’s circle in Mexico and the early days of their association.

Paco: I’ll certainly be looking forward to future Che diaries, as I imagine a lot of people will.

Carter: Thanks. I hope a sufficient number of people will buy this first book to enable me to purchase a new hat.

Paco: That seems to be a pretty modest goal.

Carter: Ok, two hats. But, really, this ain’t War and Peace, you know.

Paco: Well, it’s starting to get a little crowded in here, so I guess we’d better wrap it up. Thanks again for the interview. Oops!

Carter [mopping more espresso off his pants]: Make that a new hat and a new pair of pants. And you’re welcome.

Update: Recommended by all the higher class blogs.


39 comments:

Mr. Bingley said...

I just bought my copy!

Mr. Bingley said...

(and the Lower Class ones as well, Dearest Paco)

SwampWoman said...

The price is reasonable, too! Only two ducks and a duckling.

DAMN YOU, Mr. Bingley! Amazon said they were temporarily sold out. I blame YOU.

Mr. Bingley said...

As well you should, for it said "only 1 copy left" when I ordered so IT'S MINE MINE MINE

SwampWoman said...

You are SO LUCKY that you are out of petulant shin-kicking range.

Mr. Bingley said...

AND I got the "First Edition" so in 50 years I will sell it for millions.

JeffS said...

I ordered my copy as well, in spite of the "Temporarily Out Of Stock" warning.

Maybe a bunch of lefties are buying this up, without reading the introduction? One can hope.

I can't wait for the reviews to start piling up. They can be quite entertaining, especially on publications that lefties find outrageous.

Nashville Beat said...

I ordered mine as well. Someone should tell Mr. Carter to offer it in a Kindle edition, as well.

richard mcenroe said...

Amazon will have further stock in short order. Meanwhile, spread the word about this amusing divertisement, if you would be so kind. Dave wants a new hat, but my printer's more a 'pound of flesh nearest thy heart' kind of guy.

SwampWoman said...

Angry teeth gnashing directed at Mr. Bingley's first edition comment.

mojo said...

Any relation to Captain John Carter of Barsoom?

mojo said...

PS: "Temporarily out of stock"

I like the sound of that.

Anonymous said...

Deborah said...Paco, those wrist spams could be from the Madagascar Cinnamon. I'd lay off it for awhile. If it isn't the spice, then back to decaff.

That's a lot of flesh, Richard. Dave needs two new fedoras, nifty slacks, and more ammo. Interesting tidbit aside, his guns were stolen too.

I wonder if this Carter fellow has any other interviews coming up?

Boy on a bike said...

Can't wait for the Kindle edition to come out.

Mr. Bingley said...

My copy has been shipped.

(whistles and skips merrily past SwampWoman)

SwampWoman said...

/Quickly sticks out foot to trip Mr. Bingley.

Oh, my bad. Didn't see or hear you there, Bingley.

Mr. Bingley said...

MOMMIEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

bruce said...

It's here! It's here! You sprung it on us!

Skeeter said...

Please pass on to Mr Carter our heartiest congratulations.
Mrs Skeeter insisted that she would not be able to wait for me to finish reading it, so I have just ordered two copies from Amazon to be delivered when they become available.

Minicapt said...

The editor chappie sounds rather dickie …

Cheers

cac said...

Starbucks? I assume this Carter character is a literary device, your Dr Watson as it were, but couldn't you invest the fellow with more class?

Paco said...

cac: It was either that or Chick-Fil-A.

Yojimbo said...


Who the heck is P.A. Crooke-Overton? Paco having some fun?

One of your namesake authors is big in bugs. Very apropos since Che was an expert in extermination.:)

Geez I hope some of your superiors doesn't learn about this. They will make your life even more of a living hell.

JeffS said...

It was either that or Chick-Fil-A.

I hear Mr. Carter is fond of "Five Guys".

Just sayin'.

Paco said...

Hey, I'll remember that!

Thanks, incidentally, to everyone who has purchased, or is contemplating purchasing, the book. I will talk to the publisher about the possibility of an ebook version.

richard mcenroe said...

An ebook version is planned; I'm holding off a few weeks to not conflict with the initial print sales.

Carter rocked the house on DaTechGuy today. It reruns Tuesday.

Paco said...

Richard McEnroe joined Mr. Carter, as well, and provided some very valuable insights, which are well worth listening to.

Merilyn said...

On order, looking forward to reading it when it arrives.

Bob Belvedere said...

On order and a hearty 'HUZZAH!' to Mr. Carter.

It's so sad, however, that a man of honor like D.C. is forced to associated with the likes of that McEnroe fellow.

I know him, sadly, quite well, as he is - the gods be damned - my cousin.

Paco said...

Man, I thought the people at my family reunion looked a little weird!

richard mcenroe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
richard mcenroe said...

Taking that photo was the best investment of five minutes I ever made. No matter how much I irritate lefties on Twitter, none of them ever troll me worth a damn for some reason.

OK, maybe one or two other reasons...

http://tinyurl.com/8xb5har

Anonymous said...

You can tell Che was an evil buffoon who needed to be mocked. Just look at his head gear....suspiciously non-Fedora like.

Paco said...

Anon: Exactly.

missred said...

so glad you finally got this published. I guess I will just have to wait for my copy (along with everyone BUT mr. Bingley!)
What I want to know is when Mr. Carter will be doing his tour?

missred said...

so glad you finally got this published. I guess I will just have to wait for my copy (along with everyone BUT mr. Bingley!)
What I want to know is when Mr. Carter will be doing his tour?

RebeccaH said...

Congrats to Mr. Carter for getting the Lost Diaries published! I'll be ordering my copy today.

Bob Belvedere said...

Paco wrote: Man, I thought the people at my family reunion looked a little weird!

I have overcome much adversity.

thefrollickingmole said...

ORDERED!!!

Now you just need to type out a new copy for me!