hen we were in D.C., we got an interesting offer from C.I.A. director George Tenet. He had heard us reading from The Unknown on Ollie North’s radio show, and had decided to hire us. He spoke to us over the phone and said that it was an insecure line so he couldn’t go into any detail.
He had us meet our handler, who went by the name of “Cormac McCarthy,” at the Borders. In the Political Science section, we were approached by an overweight man in an impeccable suit and mirrored Ray Bans. “I like Stephen King,” he offered. Dirk said: “William here likes language poetry, but Scott here likes metafiction.” This was the proper response. The man laughed and shook our hands vigorously. “My name is Cormac. Our friend in San Francisco says you boys write good.” This was obviously a veiled reference to Frank. This stunned us. Was Frank a spook? We didn’t know he had ties.
Over croissants at the Borders Café, Cormac spoke openly to us about his plan. The C.I.A. was to finance a special cut-out, code-named the Unknown. We would be foreign operatives. Our purpose would be to infiltrate Eastern European literary circles in order to get close to burgeoning Eastern European politicians.
We listened to his plan with interest.…