Who doesn’t know the story in it’s many incarnations? A powerful man falls for a beautiful woman. A beautiful, younger woman. A woman with a past. And then something happens and the man must make a choice. La Traviata, anyone?
It’s the woman’s past that Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber can’t shake. The bombs started dropping early last fall. He appeared at hurried press conferences. Strong and chivalrous, Gov. Kitzhaber told us he loved his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, who it appeared, last October, had lied to him by omission about her past. He told us he’d stand by her even though he looked, perhaps for the first time in his life, like a deer in the headlights. Even those of us who’d always voted for Kitzhaber and secretly admired his spunky “First Lady” said, “It’s only going to get worse.” And it has.
I am not interested in the prurient details of this tale, although there are plenty enough of them. There are only so many prurient details under the sun, and folks my age know what most of them are. For me the important thing is the drama, the hero’s journey, the arc of the story. This is a Greek tragedy, a grand opera, Shakespeare. This is a complete shit storm. A man fell in love and didn’t do his homework. A woman manipulated herself into a position of power. Hearts were broken, as was the law. As in a Greek tragedy, hubris is a strong element of the story, and there will be no winners.
For writers, who are mostly a little bit crazy, this isn’t just politics. Regardless of whether one is for, against, or indifferent, this is the stuff great novels are made of–high stakes, ups and downs, twists and turns, and even something of a mystery. Great novels always about person or persons in a butt load of trouble.
This novel is nearing its end. In Cleopatra, an asp conveniently made it into the play and onto the stage. La Traviata died. In Greek mythology, a hero flew too close to the sun. Writers take note: This is what best-selling stories are made of.