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Friday, December 02, 2011

The Overton Window: Chapter 42

Welcome back one and all to our ongoing series on The Overton Window, the book that makes Gutenberg spin in his grave. Last time I took a week off for the holiday, but the time before that Stuart and Danny got in a gunfight. What happens this week? We return to Noah and Molly who are having a rough patch in their otherwise horrific relationship.

As I mentioned I am once again selecting a comment of the week, and this week that "honor" goes to a tie between Sassafras and Jay: Let's begin with Sassafras:

Did the authors seriously use TWO semi-colons?! In a breathtakingly ENDLESS sentence where the reader is suppose to NOT chortle at the phrase "without pause?"

Did they pull these idiots aside in Creative Writing class to teach them the ancient art of describing ostensibly exciting things in the most ass-numbing way possible?

If I ever get the chance, I will pistol whip the authors in public. Quickly. WITHOUT PAUSE.

Indeed, they did use semi-colons, and I think we can only assume that they either went to school for bad writing, or simply hate the reader. And America. As for Jay's insights... they're pretty solid, actually:

The important thing to know about those moments of seemingly crystal clear telepathy is that they're all in your head and the other person was probably thinking about lunch.

Which makes it very much like this book: it's so thrilling that when reading I find myself powerless to think about anything other than, oh, my need to do laundry, the vet appointment I need to schedule... basically anything more interesting than this "thriller". Well done, folks, and keep it up. We've rounded the bend on this thing, so now we just have to put it to bed.

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.). I'd buy that for a dollar.

Dramatis Personae: In an order determined by the ELF coming out of my stereo.

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. Molly's Mom. Injected with weed killer by parties unknown blisteringly obvious to everyone.

Noah Gardener: 28 years old. Sets the dating bar "medium-high". Works Vice president at a PR firm. Went to NYU. Is "witty". Frequently forgets where he's going and why. Not good at talking to women. Not really inclined to help out cab drivers. Low tolerance for alcohol. Lost his mother when he was young. Fond of chicken and waffles. Rich as shit. Views himself as a sexual panther. Likes bacon. Considers himself to be good at word games. Wants to bang his mom.

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. Cocktease. Possibly suffering from bipolar disorder. Looks just like Noah's mom. Also looks just like Natalie Portman.

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. Sodomized by inmates following the rally. Once dressed up as Colonel Sanders to infiltrate the United Nations. May be afraid of cats. Fast draw, terrible shot.

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.

Stuart Kearns: FBI agent. Works on homeland security matters. Kinda old and wrinkly. Not particularly trusting. Lives in a double-wide trailer. Sixty-three years old.

Mr. Puddles: AKA Gray Death. AKA Ninja Cat. Stuart's cat. Large. Dangerous looking. Possibly plotting his demise.

Tiffany: A stripper at the Pussycat Ranch. Thinks Danny is awesome.

Ellen Davenport: Old friend of Noah's. Second-year neurology resident at Mt. Sinai. Doesn't appear to need sleep or have good taste in her associates.


Chapter 42: In which Noah is betrayed or... something? I dunno.

Recommended Mood Music:

Page 259, Line 1-7:
Noah had shaken his one remaining pill out of the prescription bottle halfway through the flight, and now as the last of the medicine was wearing off, a nasty withdrawal was setting in with a vengeance. By the time they reached the car rental counter he could feel himself starting to fade. Headache, chills, dizziness, a general sickening malaise- it was already bad, and he could tell it was going to get much worse over the next few hours.

Yeah, I hate to break it to you, but I think those are the side effects of being Noah Gardner. Definitely the sickening malaise, anyway.

Page 259, Line 8-13:
Molly was driving, since he clearly wasn't fit to sit behind the wheel, and to put it delicately, she drove with a purpose. If he'd been feeling good and in the right sort of daredevil mood her driving might have been easier to take in stride. As it was, though, between his worsening physical condition and being jostled around the front seat by all the surging and braking and swerving through traffic, he wasn't having any fun at all.

Bitch, bitch, bitch, moan, moan, moan! Seriously, the chapter begins with two entire paragraphs of whining from our "hero". Can't we do any better than this in a "thriller"? Well, as it turns out: no, we can't.

Page 259, Line 14-17:
Plus, she wasn't talking. Since they'd started out in the car all he was getting were one-word answers, along with clear unspoken signals that there was nothing so important that it needed to be discussed at the moment.

So, basically, Molly looks like Noah's mom does, and treats him like Noah's dad does. Christ, I don't know if this is oedipal or just generically messed up, but Noah is just a truly worthless human being. Anyway, we learn that they've already left the Las Vegas city limits and that Molly is driving really fast. You know, if you hadn't caught that already.

Page 260, Line 5-11:
"We're going to get stopped," Noah said.

She didn't answer, and she didn't slow down.

"Where are we going, Molly?"

"To help a friend," she said curtly. "Now would you please just let me drive?"


"Thank you."

Oddly, the only place I can see this going is somewhere that features Noah saying something like, "She only hits me 'cause I don't learn good. It's just her way." Note that I'm not saying that I find domestic violence funny- I really, really don't- but I find the idea of violence directed at Noah Gardner to be quite entertaining. Evidently the authors agree, given the treatment of Mr. Gardner thus far in the "novel". Anyway, it suddenly occurs to Noah that their destination is printed on a folded piece of paper than Molly left in the cup holder armrest and, in a rare display of a nerve cord- if not actually a spine- he snatches it up and takes a gander. To him this crap is new, but to us it looks a tad... familiar.

Page 260-261, Line 260: 29-31, 261: 1-12:
spread the word --- stay away from las vegas monday
FBI sting op --> * exigent *
be safe

Big mtg today, Monday PM, southern
Nevada. If you don't hear from me by
Wednesday I'm probably dead*, and this is
where to hunt for the body:
Lat 37[degrees]39'54.34"N Long 116[degrees]56'31.48"W
> S T A Y A W A Y from Nevada TFN <

* I wish I was kidding [formatting original. Yes, really. And yes, I am too lazy to look up how to make the symbol for "degrees"]

Now, for those of you without amazingly good memories, this is, in fact, the message that Danny sent waaaay back in Chapter 29 (Page 195, Line 7-15). What's weird is that, at the time, it was described as a message to his staff in Chicago, with a copy to Molly and some other unnamed folk (Page 195, Line 3-6). Given the text we're now being shown, we're forced to conclude that (a) Danny refers to his staff as "molly" (b) while hurrying to send his illicit e-mail while Agent Kearns was dropping the deuce in the trailer bathroom Danny decided to send two different nearly identical messages solely so that he could personalize Molly's message or (c) the authors are freaking morons. I leave it to you to identify the most parsimonious explanation. Anyway, Noah manages to read through this message while only moving his lips a little bit and reacts as only a passive-aggressive stalker douchebag can react.

Page 261, Line 13-17:

She glanced over at him, but only for a second before she got her eyes back on the road. When he looked down he found he'd crumpled the paper in his hand so hard that it might never come unfolded.

"I can't believe it," Noah said. "You people got me again."

What the f-ing crap is this shit? You can't believe what now? You can't believe that the woman who seduced you, then drugged your ass into unconsciousness and, likely, incontinence in order to steal information from your workplace would further take advantage of you in order to get what she wants? Yeah, man, that sounds totally freaking implausible. She must be some kind of master of deceit to pull this one over on you. Bloody hell, you ass, Molly hasn't even apologized for what she did. She's pretty much told you her agenda, and she's explained very clearly that she's a total lunatic, so why on earth are you surprised? What? What was that? Because your intelligence verges on sub-human? Why yes, I think that must be it! And are we supposed to be impressed when a grown man is so strong that he can crumple paper so hard that it "might never come unfolded"? Bloody hell, my daughter can do that, and she can't even control her bowels yet!

Alas, sub-human or not, Noah is just going to have to wait because we've reached the end of the chapter. Yes, seriously: this entire chapter was nothing but Noah bitching about feeling bad, bitching about Molly not talking to him, getting verbally slapped by Molly, and then reading an e-mail. It's like the anti-Ludlum. Come back next time when we return to Danny and Stuart, who are about to become the luckiest characters in the entire book.

See you then.



Blogger Mister Troll said...

Shift-option eight. Glad to help.

So all the characters are gathering near a nuclear weapon? Dare we hope?

Friday, December 02, 2011 7:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Noah is too dumb to live, too rare to die.

At this point, I'm with Mister Troll ^^ -- I am so ready for some Deus Ex Machina, preferably in the form of an explodey device. Where's "Trashcan Man" from The Stand when you need him?!

Friday, December 09, 2011 8:52:00 AM  

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