In Julius, I open the first official chapter with Corinne studying a Spanish Civil War poster. She’s been intrigued by the main image of a miner since she was a child when it was the center piece of grandfather’s study and later sold to pay for her college tuition at UC Santa Cruz. This poster is a recent discovery and purchase and it serves somewhat as a harbinger of the ghostly person who will enter her life.
Throughout the book, the man in the poster is referred to as “TNT Man” or “Her Miner.” Corinne feels very protective about this man and considers the print a prized possession just like her copy of Alvah Bessie’s Men in Battle.
The commonalities between poster and book is obviously how art (visual and the printed word) portray the Spanish conflict, but also Corinne’s protective nature and loyalty to two comrade-in-arms— the Asturian, Communist miner, and the Communist writer Alvah Bessie.
In that first chapter Corinne is wondering about her miner. In her research (as well as mine) nothing turns up, but she can’t help but question what sort of man he was, did he have a family and, more importantly, did he survive the Spanish Civil War?
Although the changing image a la Dorian Gray acts more as a signal when Alvah or something bad will occur, I never really thought of including a subplot in the story. However, these past few weeks (and I should mention one writer cum beta reader has always asked about the plight of TNT Man and what plans I had for him), I have been mulling over the idea of including a subplot of who he was and what happened to him. I haven’t worked out all the details, but I know how it ends, which in a way parallels an event in Alvah’s life when he was in Spain with the Lincolns.
That’s all I’m saying for right now because it is still very much in the embryonic phase, but I’m excited that the story is becoming richer and deeper.