The Overton Window: Chapter 9
As I mentioned I am once again selecting a comment of the week, and this week that "honor" goes to Aussiesmurf for going all shutter island on us:
I think we need to seriously examine the possibility that Noah has suffered a psychotic break, and is hallucinating the multi-cultural crowd at this bar.
In fact, given the trend for earth-shattering 'twists' at the end of works of fiction, he's probably just arrived at the asylum for admission. This explains :
(1) The fact that only two people interact with him, despite the fact that the place is 'supposedly' wall-to-wall packed.
(2) There are 'coincidentally' spare clothes for him to wear at this place.
(3) He is able to sit unbothered at an empty table and chairs despite this packed bar.
(4) He is given 'coffee' at a New York bar.
(5) His asinine comments are met with resigned indulgence : "Of course your father is a guru PR executive, and you're an attractive ladies' man. Sure you were grabbed off the street by a press gang..." Now put on this nice jacket we found in someone else's luggage....'
The hell of it is, the remainder of the book absolutely makes more sense if you assume it's all part of one, absurdly tame, psychotic break. And frankly, reading with that view makes it much more palatable as well. I'd also like to extend an honorable mention to Jay for making a good point about the writing. Thanks everyone and keep at it! There are many chapters yet to go.
And, with that, let's begin! As always, page/line numbers are in bold, quotes from the book are in block quotes, my commentary is in regular print, and you can navigate the whole series with the provided tag. My footnotes use the traditional star system (e.g. *, **, etc) while references included in the Afterword to the book are noted with numbered parenthetical tags (e.g. (1), (2), etc.). Onward!
Dramatis Personae: In an order chosen by Lot and his daughters/mistresses.
Eli Churchill: Former janitor at a volcano lair. Fan of remote telephone booths. Shot in the head by parties unknown.
Beverly ???: Mysterious correspondent of Eli Churchill's.
Noah Gardener: 28 years old. Sets the dating bar "medium-high".
Molly "Hottie McPretty" Ross: Dresses like a hippie, but not really. Looks like a free spirit. Perfectly captures the essence of womanhood. Auburn hair. Green eyes. Pale skin. Has a tattoo on her chest. Wears a silver cross around her neck.
Arthur Gardner Noah's father. Owner of Doyle & Merchant. Megalomaniac. Surprisingly vigorous for a 74 year old man.
Khaled: Lebanese cab driver. Sold out by Noah Gardener.
Hollis: Friend of Molly Ross. Very polite. From the country. May be a Yeti.
Chapter 9: In which Noah talks, bonds with Hollis, flirts with Molly, and we are told about a plot point that will doubtless be important later.
Recommended Mood Music:
Page 55, Line 1:
Being between tans, Noah had opted to change his clothes in private...
As these things go, that's not a particularly enticing way to start a chapter. I mean, does anyone else really want to imagine Noah "tanning"? I thought not. In any case, if that doesn't convince you that he's some useless, effete liberal suit, the next bit is sure to do the trick.
Page 55, Line 6-7:
He slipped out of his damp shirt and into the fresh top he'd borrowed.
The fresh what he'd borrowed? You know what, folks? I've been a man for, you know, as long as I've been alive and have never heard a male use the term "top" to refer to one of his shirts. Not f-ing once. So, yeah, it appears that Noah is a girl,* and not even a particularly likable type of girl at that. Anyway, Noah gets out of the can and heads back to the table only to see that Hollis has disappeared and Molly is now talking with some unknown male. She's just talking but, in classic Noah fashion, he detects something deeper.
Page 56, Line 5-8:
It was the intimate relaxation between them, a togetherness without any pretense, the kind of closeness you see only rarely between siblings, and sometimes among old friends, but often between two people in love.
Uh-oh. This does not bode well. Given Noah's previous feelings/reactions/obsessions with Molly, I'm concerned this might prompt him to show up at her apartment having carved her name into his chest with a steak knife, crying, "I did this for YOU!!!"** Stalker-ish reactions aside, I also leave it to you to contemplate the quick juxtaposition between "something you see between siblings" and "something you see in romantic love", because I don't want any part of it. In any case, Hollis appears mysteriously at Noah's side and remarks that Molly seems like a nice girl. The exact nature of the remarks are unnecessary, but Noah observes that Hollis has an accent that places him as from the Appalachian mountains. This will be relevant later, though not to the plot.
Page 56, Line 19-21:
"That boy with her [Molly] there, his name's Danny Bailey. Molly tells me they was tight with one another some time ago, but beyond that I didn't pry no further." [Hollis said before, I'm guessing, spitting his tobacco and strumming a banjo]
Okay, so these two guys just met and one is giving the other advice about getting with his female friend? Does this make sense to anyone, or am I the only one who is confused? Seriously, if you're not smelling a setup by now, you're either braindead or you're Noah Gardner. Come to think of it, that last "or" didn't really present a second alternative, did it? More a restatement of the first, I guess. Regardless, Noah decides to stop pretending to be disinterested in Molly, having realized that he apparently sucks at it,*** and asks what Hollis knows about Bailey.
Page 56, Line 29-32:
"To be honest I don't know that much about him," Hollis said, and his next words sounded strange coming from a giant of a man who could probably bear-hug the fight out of a silverback at the Bronx Zoo.
"But he scares me some."
The first time I read this book, I thougt that last bit was pretty well done. I mean, they've been emphasizing how huge Hollis is since we met him, so the "he scares me" thing actually was somewhat effective. This time through, I have to laugh, because Danny Bailey is about as terrifying as Pee-Wee Herman. Whatever. The authors break up the chapter with an ellipsis but when we pick back up Noah is sitting back down at the table with Molly and Danny so, apparently, the ellipsis just spared us a brief description of his walking back over to the table.
Page 57, Line 3-4:
"So, you must be Noah," Danny Bailey said. "Molly's told me almost nothing about you."
Ha. Sadly, that isn't some sort of code phrase suggesting that Hollis taze the crap out of Molly's stalker. Instead, it's an attempt at characterization, and does succeed in making Danny sound like an ass, but what follows it is a little curious.
Page 57, Line 5-13:
If the twinkle in his deep voice was any indication, Bailey found himself pretty damned amusing. He had the air of someone who was accustomed to being seen from a stage or on camera and had put his look together accordingly. He was handsome enough, but up close you could see all the things the footlights would obscure: too many crosshatched wrinkles for a man so young, desperately spiky hair with too-carefult highlights, face a bit too thin, eyes a little sunken and dry. It was a picture of a guy on the wrong side of thirty trying hard to remember twenty-one.
And the odd thing is, really, that description makes me picture Glenn Beck himself. Now, Bailey is not a really sympathetic character at this point. We're eventually supposed to regard him as such, but he isn't one now, and it makes me wonder if one of the authors is having a little fun at Beck's expense. I can't say if Bailey equals Beck, but I can say that almost any in-story avatar has to be better than Noah so, really, it would be a step up. Anyway, Bailey contines to be a dick and it comes out that he's some sort of sensation on YouTube, which isn't all that impressive given the sorts of things**** you can find***** on YouTube. Noah, fortunately, know just the right way to respond.
Page 58, Line 3-6:
"Well," Noah said, "I guess I've got a really good spam filter."
For a long moment the legendary Danny Bailey looked like he'd just been double-smacked across his face with the ceremonial dueling gloves.
Frankly, I think Bailey should consider himself lucky that Noah isn't already pulling his hair and trying to claw his eyes out while yelling, "Skank!" and "Bitch!" Somehow both of these manly-men restrain themselves and Bailey heads off to do... something? I dunno, it's not really explained. Molly then decides to smooth things over.
Page 58, Line 19-20:
"Danny's a good guy, he's just living in the past of this movement, I think." [Molly said]
This... movement? This is a movement? Because it looks like an inconsistently described party in a bar on Friday night to me.
Page 58, Line 20-24:
"I'm not telling you anything that I haven't said to him. You'll see what I mean when he speaks tonight. He doesn't have much of a BS-filter, and he gets people fired up about the wrong things, when there are plently of real things to fight against. But, there's no denying he gets a lot of attention."
Like I said- the resemblance to Beck his un-frickin-canny. Noah replies that it would be wise to get a spokesperson for the "movement" who isn't a looney-toon and Molly says she'll think about it.
Page 58, Line 30-31:
She [Molly] looked him [Noah] over. "I'm glad to see that shirt fits you so well."
Bitch, that's a top! Fortunately, Noah manages to step on his rage at having his fashion terminology callously disregarded.
Page 59, Line 4-5:
"I'm happy you came. Now"-she [Molly] scooted a few inches closer-"tell me something about yourself that I don't already know."
Wait, is she... is she taking an interest in him? Oh, man, this just ain't right. Regardless, he says that he will if she will and she agrees.
Page 59, Line 8-10:
"Okay." He [Noah] bit his lip as if in deep thought, considering what to choose as a first revelation. "I have an almost supernatural ability to tell when a person is hiding something."
I feel compelled to point out that, once again, the narrators themselves seem to be hinting that Noah is some kind of delusional moron. Notice that he's only biting his lip "as if in deep thought" as opposed to "in deep thought". When it comes to substance, Noah is all appearance. As for his secret talent... well... I'll let Molly tell it to you straight.
Page 59, Line 11:
"No, you don't." [Molly answered]
No, he doesn't. In fact, Noah is almost supernaturally bad at telling when people are hiding things. I mean, purely by chance we'd expect him to do better than he manages over the course of this book but, alas, that's a matter for a future episode. What is relevant is that when I initially read this crap I expected Noah's talent to be a plot point- something that would be crucial to resolving the conflict later on. Yeah, as it turns out? Not so much. Regardless, Molly asks Noah to prove it and, after looking around a bit, he points out a guy in the crowd and lets her in on something.
Page 59, Line 21-22:
"He's [the bystander] not one of you. If that's not an infiltrator, I've never seen one before."
So, just to sum up: the wacky political people are so important, unnamed others are actually sending infiltrators to... hell, I don't know, infiltrate I guess. The notion that anyone would dare to come to her political gathering enrages Molly, however, and Noah has to think fast.
Page 59, Line 25-26:
"Calm down," Noah said. "What do you think, there's not going to be a spy or two from the enemy camp at a thing like this?"
No doubt during his lengthy and outstanding record of success with the ladies****** he learned that telling an angry woman to calm down totally works. Like every f-ing time. Am I right?******* Also, we have an enemy camp? Who? Why? Where? What the hell is going on? All entries in a little pamphlet I'm working on entitled, "Shit you will never learn in this book". Anyway, Molly stands up and starts publicly heckling the guy as a traitor and hounds him out of the bar- all on the word of Noah Gardner who, aside from being obviously delusional, does not have any mystical ability to tell when people are hiding something. Moreover, Molly is in a position to know this with absolute certainty since, as it turns out, she's hiding something. Anyway, having run off a probable innocent for no good reason, she settles back down for her turn.
Page 60, Line 11:
"I can sometimes be a little impulsive," she whispered.
Ha! That Molly Ross! I hate her already.
But, hatred or not, that takes us to the end of the chapter. So you'll have no choice but to come back next time when we'll be treated to a confusing and uninformative lecture by Molly's MNWLF.******** Trust me: it'll be an experience.
See you then.
* No, I don't mean "woman," I mean "girl," as in "an immature female". Note as well that I don't mean this in a pejorative sense- I've met women who could kick my ass without breaking a sweat- I'm just saying that either the authors want us to view Noah as effeminate or there's something really odd going on here.
** Yes, I am a terrible person. Thanks so much for noticing.
*** Which is odd when you think about it, since Noah supposedly lies for a living. I guess it's nice to have a daddy who owns the company, eh?
**** As a side note: that has got to be the awesomest YouTube video EVAR! It's like some kinda goddamn French film.
***** "Woah. It's a double rainbow! Wow. Oh, God, I am so high right now. I think I ate my own hand, man!"
****** Wow, I actually feel slimy just typing that.
******** Mom Noah Would Like to Fuck.
Labels: The Overton Window