The Overton Window: Chapter 15
As I mentioned I am once again selecting a comment of the week, and this week that "honor" goes to whatisthewhat for reading between the lines:
"Hundreds of first dates", never a second.
Indeed, would anyone out there go on a second date with Noah? Hell, I'm betting most of you wouldn't go on a first date. And perhaps that's the key to his present ennui? It isn't that he's been exhausted by all his successful, albeit meaningless, sexual conquests but, instead, has exhausted the dating pool in New York City and has to expand to out-of-state visitors. Classy! Well done, Jenn, and keep at it everyone! The hit parade just keeps on rumbling down the track of despair.
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.). Booyah!
Dramatis Personae: In an order that wasn't so much chosen as imposed by outside forces.
Eli Churchill: Former janitor at a volcano lair. Fan of remote telephone booths. Shot in the head by parties unknown.
Beverly Emerson: 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. Lost her father when she was young. Impressed by fancy cars.
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.
Danny Bailey: Some kind of YouTube celebrity. Former lover of Molly Ross. Kind of a dickhead. Loves conspiracy theories and incoherent speeches.
Charlie Nelan: Gardner family lawyer. Silver hair. Impeccably dressed. Looks awesome. Has some sort of weird relationship with GQ. May have the ability to sense when Noah's in trouble using some sort of clairvoyance. Possible kleptomaniac.
Chapter 15: In which we go inside Noah's apartment, are reminded that he's rich and she's pretty, and then Noah doesn't get laid but does creep us all out.
Recommended Mood Music:
Page 110, Line Pontoon:
No quote, but the chapter opens with Molly and Noah getting out of the car. So, you know, we definitely didn't skip ahead or anything.
Page 110, Line 5-13:
"Is that where you live?" she asked, pointing.
"No, not there. See those flags? That's the French embassy." He took her hand and walked her to the intersection. "And down the street there, that's the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which we can walk through sometime if you ever want to get totally blown away. And that's Central Park over there, which you've already seen." He turned her around and pointed up the tower of dark masonry and glass that had been behind her. "And way up there on the twenty-third floor, that's where I live."
Jesus Titty-fucking Christ. We get it, okay? He's rich. He's rich as hell. We KNOW! Look, it's right up there in the dramatis personae; it says "Rich as shit". Can we please get on with the book now?
Page 110, Line 14-17:
They walked inside and made their way across the ornate lobby to the elevator bank. As the double doors were closing a hand reached in to stop them. They opened to reveal a lanky, fiftyish man in a blue jogging suit.
Wait for it...
Page 110-111, Line 110: 18, 111: 1-5
He [the mysterious intruder] thumbed his numbered floor button and those blue eyes gave Molly a leisurely, detailed once-over, which she seemed just barely able to coolly ignore. When the elevator stopped and opened at his floor, the guy glanced at Noah with a subtle nod before he departed, a man-to-man stamp of approval indicating their shared good taste in fine feminine company.
I just... words fail me. It's like the authors stood good writing against a wall, gave it a last cigarette, and executed it by firing squad. What does that bit about "...which she seemed just barely able to coolly ignore" mean, anyway? If she seemed like she was having a hard time containing herself, then how the hell is she coolly ignoring anything? Can someone even do both of those things at the same time? Leaving this atrocity against comprehension aside, it comes out that the mysterious stranger was none other than Eliot Spitzer (1).* What does that have to do with the "plot"? Absolutely f-ing nothing! So why is the scene included? Folks, I haven't the faintest idea. But, it does provide the opportunity for Noah to share some words of "wisdom":
Page 111, Line 13-14:
"With great power comes great friskiness. They've all got a lust for something." [Noah said]
Like Noah, for example: he apparently has a lust for the medium-high bar. And waffles. Anyway, Noah makes sure to mention that his apartment is worth $5 million ("Did we tell you that Noah is really, really rich? Well he IS!"), and that his father is the owner. And I'm forced to wonder: is that better or worse than living in your parents' basement? And then, after some more discussion of the Spitzer scandal, we're finally finished with the elevator scene.
Page 112, Line 3-5:
The instant he'd keyed them inside, Molly took off to explore, marveling at the panoramic floor-to-ceiling view, running from room to room like a toy-starved moppet cut loose in FAO Schwarz.
What the... are we in Pretty Woman now? Also, was this moppet able to cipher out how many rooms were in this apartment? I mean, seriously, where the hell are the authors getting their language from? Anyway, you can be certain that Molly has kept her mind on what's really important in this scene.
Page 112, Line 9-10:
"And it [the apartment] cost how much again?" [
"Five million, plus about sixty thousand a year for maintenance." [Noah replied]
Please, for the love of all that's good and decent, we get it! He's really rich. Fine, whatever, he's like freaking Midas. Now can we please actually have some plot? Obviously not. Noah excuses himself to take a shower, tells Molly where she can find her own shower and some clothing for sleeping, and they separate.
Page 112, Line 22-25:
Squeaky-clean at last and dressed for bed, blinds pulled closed, Noah chose a novel from the night table and reclined against a stack of pillows to try to read himself to sleep, within a pale circle of light from his bedside lamp.
And oddly I find myself wondering if the novel Noah is reading is better than the one I'm reading, because this one truly sucks. On another note: Noah hasn't slept in at least 24 hours, was clubbed unconscious by the police (for which he has never received medical treatment) and spent the night in jail. Would he really need to "read himself to sleep"? Sitting would probably do the trick. Regardless, he's in chapter two of his book when Molly knocks, pokes her head in, and mentions that she just made a phone call.
Page 113, Line 2-9:
"I [Molly] was calling about Danny. Remember him? Danny Bailey, from the bar?"
"Yeah. I wish I didn't, but yeah."
"Nobody remembers seeing him after the raid, and he wasn't with the rest of us at the police station. I called around to see if anyone had heard from him."
"And they hadn't, I gather."
She shook her head.
Wow! That would be mysterious if we had any reason to give a shit. Anyway, she asks if she can come in, he agrees, and then he notices that she's wearing his old lacrosse shirt.
Page 113, Line 18-21:
"You played lacrosse in school?" [Molly asked] The faded jersey was much too big, of course, and she'd gathered the slack and tied it up, leaving a spell-binding glimpse of taut, smooth waist above the northern border of a lucky pair of his own navy boxers.
"Wow! You were in the navy?" Sorry, couldn't resist. Feel free to take a moment if that bit left you feeling a tad queasy- it's a normal reaction. Despite the fact that this seems like the opener to a porno, it's important to realize that the shorts are the only thing that's going to get lucky in this entire damned chapter.
Page 113, Line 25-27:
When she reached the edge of the bed she crawled up onto the far end of the tall king-size mattress, walked its length on her knees, and then flopped down next to him with an easy sigh, sharing his pillows.
I suppose I should be grateful that we didn't just have to suffer through a discussion of how expensive the damned mattress was. And yeah, this is seeming less and less like a chaste evening.
Page 113, Line 28-29:
"What are you reading?" [Molly asked]
He showed her the title briefly, and then put the book back down.
Okay, that sentence annoyed me the first time I read the book, and it's annoying me again now. The reason for that is quite simple: if the authors had given us a book title, or a description, it would have been a beautiful opportunity to add some depth to Noah's character. I mean, if he were reading Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, it would have clued us into something very different about Noah than if he were reading The Happy Return, or Native Tongue. But, in keeping with their established traditions, the authors never fail to tell rather than show, even when showing would be so absurdly easy that failing to do it seems to actually require effort. I truly hate this freaking book. Oblivious to my hatred, Noah asks Molly what she thinks she's doing and she says she wants to sleep in the bed with him. No sex, mind you, just sleep rubbed up against him. I don't think that sort of thing is necessarily unhealthy- cuddling being nice and all- but it is a little weird following a first date that prominently featured the intervention of riot police. Fortunately, Noah has every bit of class we've come to expect.
Page 114, Line 12-14:
"Suit yourself, lady. I'm telling you right now, you made the rules, but you're playing with fire here. I've got some rules, too, and rule number one is, don't tease the panther."
Ah. Right. Because if she gets you too revved up you can't be held accountable for your actions, is that it? You know what? Yes, you can be held accountable because possessing an erect penis does not give you license to assault someone else. Also, is that what he calls his penis? "The panther"? Because, really, that just doesn't seem right to me. Anyway, sexual assault does not occur, but something arguably scarier does.
Page 114, Line 26-27:
He was more than satisfied to simply listen to her quiet, steady breathing and watch her settle into a peaceful, deepening slumber.
"In the morning he would steal her hairbrush. In the weeks to come he would pet it like a cat, remembering her scent always." Yeah. That's not creepy at all. But, creepy or not, that's the end not only of Chapter 15, but of Part One of the book. Seriously, the next page says Part TWO in big block letters. I'd say this is a good chance to stop and take stock, but absolutely nothing has happened, and definitely no thrilling, so I think we needn't bother.
Anyway, come back next time when we start Part TWO, which coincidentally begins a second, almost totally unrelated novel about a totally different character. Yay?
See you then.
* Yeah, I know that link doesn't go anywhere, but that's the link given in the book. Searching for the article title, "Empire of the Son. How Dad's Real Estate Fortune Pays Spitzer Benefits" doesn't turn anything up so, there you go.
Labels: The Overton Window