my brother Jon and I are ard at work on the novel which I tend to describe as “a comedy about McCarthy era.”
Most common response? “What could be funny about that era?” Well, even back then, there were folks who found humor in it. Funniest of all, probably, was The Investigator, now available in its entirety on the Internet, a radio play by Canadian playwright Reuben Ship in which McCarthy dies in a plane crash, and starts investigating subversives in heaven. And you can find humor in anything if you're callous enough.
Still, it's true, that period remains harder to laugh at than some. Relatively few people even today are going to chuckle indulgently and say "Heh, heh, that Elia Kazan -- what a joker!"
Another interesting response, which I got today: "Is there a market for that?"
Interesting in that the answer is invariably "Yes and no." You are essentially always doing something there's no market for. There's a market for art in general - there are going to be a certain number of paintings bought and sold every year, a certain number of literary novels published. But your novel, or your painting? In a word, no. Maybe after the fact, but not before or during.
You can go to a publisher and say, I want to write a bio of Truman - and he'll say yeah, there's a market, or no there isn't. An editor may even come to you, and say "Richards, the time is right for a book on the 69 Mets, or global warming...or 9/11." But you can't sit down and think, "I know - people have been looking for a good story about little three-foot-tall creatures trying to decide what to do with a magic ring -- the first person to write that one will make a mint."
It's only later, if the novel is good enough, that everyone starts saying, "Hey, you gotta read that book about the Catcher in whatever - it really tells it like it is about teenagers and phonies."
Or, "Hey, you gotta read that comic novel about the McCarthy era.”