Cube Farm

BOGIE, or Why I Wrote Patchworks

My second novel addresses gun violence in America. It didn’t start out that way.

Patchworks‘ protagonist, a millennial grad student interning for peanuts within a government bureaucracy, didn’t appear until several months into writing.

And, angry as I felt to see America shredded over and over again by episodes of massive gun violence, this central theme didn’t  appear in any initial drafts.

Two years after publication, I marvel that these crucial storytelling elements—central theme and main character—are absent from the book’s conceptual origins.

Patchworks instead got its start as a novel about the midlife crisis of a workaday government slob suffering horrific commutes under the burden of terrible debt.

That protagonist, one Oscar Keye (he doesn’t survive into publication) worked for a super-secret data lab at an imaginary cabinet agency called the Bureau of Government Intelligence and Execution.

BOGIE.

That one joke—on government, on ‘Intelligence,’ on the awful trappings of modern life—stayed with the writing from beginning to end.

BOGIE is why I wrote the novel. BOGIE is the spine that holds it all together. BOGIE personifies the broad satire of life inside a government cube farm: absentee bosses, manipulative middle managers, debilitating security protocols, the lack of water in the office water cooler, the filthy goddamn refrigerator everybody needs to use but nobody wants to clean.

Don’t even get me started on the microwave.

I wrote the book to maintain my sanity during wet, frigid mornings and nights waiting for the bus, the worst commuter option there is, while adjusting from life overseas to the bland existence of a federal bureaucrat in Washington, DC.

The novel was never capital P political. It was always about the regular man earning his bread the only way he knew how. And not enough of it.

So how did the cover come to feature an M-16 and a bold onslaught of sharp triangles directed at the Capitol? How did the title go from The Fed Buffet to PatchworKs? What is with that superior K?

That is a discussion for another post: Why I published PatchworKs.

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