"Micheli has the chops as a client of mine once said.
"And yet, while this is my experience as a reader and erstwhile reviewer reading Two Minutes With The Devil by Matt Micheli, I want to take a moment to talk about dread, its importance to this review, Micheli’s writing—the dude knows dread, and just how much I’ve been musing on this very topic lately. Because this is also about that—dread and the incessant rent-free place it’s taken up in my brain. What’s important, however, to me anyway, is what this sense of dread is about.
"It is not about COVID regardless of how much dread most of us have felt about it in recent years. Well, I certainly have. Not that I’ve felt any dread recently, which may seem ironic, having just caught it and recovered from it. Maybe possessing not enough dread was the issue there. This dread is also not about the state of the world, though come on, the state of the world is quite ass, and it’s a privilege to not be worried enough about it, if not for myself, then for practically everyone else. Nor is that dread about writing this piece, I know what I want to say even as I’m figuring how to say it as I write it.
"What this is then, is an exploration of how we capture dread as authors, how we nurture it, and its importance to our work. Not all work. Some work. This work. The thing I need to work on and a thing my client is working on.
"Here’s the thing, my agent wants more dread.
"I gave her my current manuscript and she said as a character study, great, as a piece of work I can sell, not so much. Did she say the word dread when she emailed me or when we subsequently met to discuss potential edits, maybe not. Did she say there is a need for more propulsive writing, yes, and if it wasn’t said in so many words, it was implied, and my distinct impression none-the-less.
"So, I re-read The Road.
"I forgot how terrible I felt reading that book the first time I read it. How intense every page is, the feeling of momentum and calamity even when nothing is happening, how uncomfortable it was, and the dread, dripping off every page. Which is what my agent was getting at—invoke those kinds of feelings in the reader, because I clearly hadn’t done so.
"But I have to now."