Conscience Place by Joyce Thompson (Dell, 1986, cover by John Harris)
In a conversation with my son this week, the term “neurological diversity” arose. It entered the room courtesy of Greta Thornburg in conversation with Naomi Klein. Greta described her prodigious ability to research, absorb and synthesize complex information as a sort of compensation for lacking the more common gift of social intelligence. My son, who’s teaching an undergrad lit class in Berkeley’s African American Studies department about invoking and communing with ancestors surmised that the ability to see and communicate with the dead might be a real if not common human gift — another way of being differently able.
I recently read my 1984 novel Conscience Place for the first time in 35 years. It was about to be republished. My task was to proof the scanned text, and I secretly gave myself permission to make small tweaks if I thought they were needed. Thirty five years is a long time, after all, and I feared being embarrassed by a writer I no longer am telling a story in ways I no longer would to an audience of readers who might no longer give a s—t.