While I continue my research on all the numerous topics that Julius touches upon, I’ve taken the presumptuous luxury of daydreaming of what the book’s cover would look like if I actually finish it and if it ever gets published (presumably if you envision your goals, it helps with achieving them.)
Pretty spiffy, Huh? But what’s it all about? I’ve been dreading to write the synopsis because it’s about so many things. However as Keith Recker, editor, founder, my boss, and colleague at HAND/EYE Magazine wisely said, “Don’t be afraid of what you have to do.”
So here goes . . .
Set in New York City’s Lower East Side in 2006 and 2007, Julius is the story of Corinne Sand and Jake Wells, a marketing communications executive and an attorney, who hate their lucrative occupations and dream of publishing a political and literary journal modeled after the defunct New Masses. Told from Corinne’s point of view in the first person, the reader soon learns that Corinne has a chockful of obsessions that include her family’s views on the Spanish Civil War, the Rosenbergs, the CPUSA, the Hollywood Ten, Alvah Bessie and his memoir Men in Battle, and the movies.
After a series of events occur, Jake and Corinne decide that it’s time to pursue their dream. With their life savings, the financial backing of four elderly communists, and staff of two, Jake and Corinne launch Julius, named after the left’s martyred hero Julius Rosenberg.
Running a Marxist magazine during the height of the Bush and Cheney years in money mad New York City does have its problems. Liberal friends either mock the venture or reactionary ones are afraid to be associated with Jake and Corinne. Sticking to their beliefs, the couple move forward and successfully launch Julius. Although it all seems too easy, there are conflicts. Jake and Corinne publish articles very critical of the Lower East Side’s gentrification, real estate developers, City Hall, and new businesses in the area, putting them under the public scrutiny of potential enemies. On top of that, Corinne philosophically wrestles with Jake’s propensity to mix tenets of capitalism with Marxism, while she, a classical Marxist, questions her own dedication to the cause. Then there’s the ghost of Alvah Bessie who haunts Corinne, gives her unsolicited advice about politics, love, life, and writing, and persuades her to become personally involved in a labor story she’s covering.
The story escalates when Jake and Corinne vacation in Paris and they meet a mysterious writer who shares the same ideologies and is planning to return the US. Jake impressed with the man’s credentials hires him as a freelancer. When the mystery writer borrows a laptop from and absently leaves it behind in Battery Park, the case is mistaken as a bomb. When the police discover that it’s simply a computer they find a worrisome short story on the machine’s desktop. Called in for questioning by the FBI, Jake and Corinne learn they’ve been under surveillance since the beginning of their relationship primarily because of Corinne’s background as the daughter of a former blacklisted academic and his politically radical Spanish wife.
Concerned that a blacklist might be resuscitated, and that they’ll be harangued by the government, Jake and Corinne put Julius on hiatus and leave for Paris. In Paris, Jake works as a photojournalist with the idea of turning his essays and photos into a coffee table book, but Corinne seems lost. She had become accustomed to the ghostly Alvah’s visits and their conversations, but after the FBI’s questioning he no longer appears to her. On the verge of a nervous breakdown, Corinne once again finds solace in Bessie’s memoir Men in Battle, and takes her obsession with film and the book, adapting it into a screenplay. Jake pushes her to send it to a famed and exiled director whom she admires and has a crush on, but Corinne is too embarrassed and afraid of getting turned down By chance, in a café near the director’s home, they see him and Jake boldly makes a move to strike up a conversation and mentions the screenplay. The director politely expresses interest to read both the book and the adapted screenplay. A few days later, he calls and says he want to make the film.
The story ends a year later in Spain with Corinne on location, serving as a historical consultant on Bessie and the Spanish Civil War. She watches the director’s multiple takes of a key scene, Alvah reappears, admitting to her that he had been watching her since grad school, knowing that her obsessions about him, Men in Battle, Spain, and film that she would be the one who would turn his book into a movie, but she needed a push and had to go through all the steps to get there, and now he had another project for her…
Well, I left out a lot of things, but that’s the general plot of the story. Obviously it needs work, but it’s a start.