In honor of Halloween, I though I’d blog about spooked-out text (hardy, har, har, har), you know, the big black-ed out words, passages, paragraphs, or even pages of material that has been censored by the CIA?
Have you seen them?
I like those long blocks of redactions in spy novels. I rather like knowing what someone thinks I’m not allowed to know, thank you very much.
When I first stumbled across them, I was like ... what the f*ck? But I quickly began approaching them like a puzzle, trying to imagine what the blacked-out words were. Hmm ... seems approximately three letters in length ... hmm ... gun?
What’s great about the blacked (or grayed, in this case)-out text in Valerie Plame’s autobiography is that if you turn to the back, the information in the public records the CIA would not allow Plame to include has been reported in an afterword.
So it’s very simple to flip to the back and fill in the blanks. A bit like a puzzle -- fun!
It is also a bit ridiculous, because if the information is already in public records, if any moron can flip to the back of the book and fill in "Athens," then why didn’t they just let her say Athens?
In novels, this is more or less amusing. Why leave them in? It does add to the ambience and gives the author a certain aura of credibility. It’s also fun, like a puzzle.
And since I enjoy using my imagination, it’s fun to fill in the blanks with all sorts of preposterous ideas. Probably much more interesting than the secret, anyway.
But to have whole words, whole phrases, and whole sentences blacked out definitely interrupts the storytelling experience.
Barry Eisler never has blacked-out words. It’s possible that the CIA has never censored a single word in his novels, but it doesn’t seem likely. I’ve come to the assumption that he must re-write those sentences to edit out offending words so that his storytelling is seamless.
He’s such a good storyteller that I think that’s a wise decision.
What do you think?
And ... HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!