Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Overton Window: Chapter Thirty-Five

I know you've all been waiting for some more faction and here it comes! And by faction I mean there's a scene that takes place in a real restaurant (unlike the Stars 'n Stripes He-Man Patriots Club). Yay for faction! Boo for cab rides. Yeah, you didn't think you'd get away without another cab ride, did you? Remember, cab rides = movement. You can't say the story isn't moving because it is! Literally! See? Noah moved from the hospital to the Buccaneer Diner. A real page turner! Oh, and yeah, that's the faction part. The diner. It's real. Click here if you don't believe me. (You believe me, right?)

I'm not sure, but the writing actually seems to be getting worse as the novel progresses. That hardly seems possible. You'd think through the course of a couple hundred pages the ghostwriter might hit his stride. I guess not. Look at the opening paragraph:

The street address that had been scrawled on the hospital's notepaper didn't lead him to another of the so-called safe houses that Molly had described. When Noah looked up as the cab pulled to a stop he found he was outside what looked like a quaint family-style eatery, the Buccaneer Diner on Astoria Boulevard in Queens, about a mile from La Guardia Airport.

That first sentence is clunky and awkward. As if the author couldn't quite figure out how to express his ideas clearly, and just sort of jammed them together into one uncooperative sentence. Look, it's no secret that Beck is a wealthy man. He could have hired on any number of competent ghostwriters. Instead we're saddled with prose that reads like a tenth grade writing assignment. (No offense to tenth graders.) This is, quite literally, the worst thing I've ever read. And I've read Bret Easton Ellis. Yeah, I've used that joke before. This book is so crappy I can't even be bothered to come up with fresh insults for it.

Honestly, the only thing that keeps me going at this point is that we're only about ten chapters from the end. I can't wait to see how it turns out. (I can wait.) (p.s. I already know how it ends.) The truth is, it shouldn't have taken us 200 pages to get where we are, considering we've not come much anywhere. Right? There's a bomb, and a stolen Powerpoint, and the New World Order. Really, this could have been covered in the prologue. All of which is to say, you've probably guessed by now everything in this book exists solely to set up a sequel.

We're going to get our Casus Belli moment (bye-bye, Harry Reid!), then fade to black. No resolution, no closure, no nothing. Just 275 pages of fear-mongering, pseudo-libertarian wankery, and the worst writing this side of Stephenie Meyer. That end can't come quickly enough as far as I am concerned. Bring on the New World Order, I say. So long as they put a stop to this sort of hackery, I'm okay with being under the thumb of the Nicolae Carpathia or Horatio J. HooDoo or whomever.

The only good thing about this chapter is it is free of any dialogue. It's crap writing, sure, but I guess it could be worse. There's are lot of "Molly explained" and "Noah told her" without actually detailing any of what they said. It's quicker that way, I guess. And sort of frees the author from having to put too much thought into anything.

The two are quickly reunited. I guess if this were a movie (this soooooooooo needs to be a movie) the scene would be warmly lit, and in slow motion, and they'd talk, sure, but we, the audience, would only hear the swell of Howard Shore's tear-inducing score.

Inside the restaurant the lunchtime rush was winding down, with most of the tables emptying out and the floor staff busy doing cleanup and taking care of departing patrons at the register. But sitting alone in a booth near the back, in the nearest thing to a dark corner that was available in such a place on a sunny Monday afternoon, was the young woman he'd come to see.

When Molly looked over and saw him walking up the aisle she stood and was suddenly overcome by a flood of tears she must have been barely holding at bay. She ran to him and threw herself into his arms.

Yay. Star-crossed lovers.

One question: Why are these two lovebirds so thrilled to see one another? They've spent, what, a total of three or four hours in each other's company? (If you cut out all the time Noah's been unconscious. And Noah's spent a lot of time unconscious.) They chatted briefly at work. They barely talked at the teabagger bar. They briefly talked, I guess, in the back of the police wagon. There was a limo ride and chicken and waffles and a nap. Then they watched the Powerpoint, followed by a silent cab ride. Then another brief chat in Molly's safehouse apartment. They hardly know each other. And what Noah knows is largely a lie. He's twice been drugged by Molly. Manipulated by her evoking the memories of his late mother. Had his career nearly destroyed. So why does he want to see her? And Noah represents everything Molly despises. He is colluding to install the NWO. Noah's father just had her mother murdered, her ex-boyfriend arrested, her friends beaten. Why does she want to see him?

This romance, much like everything else in the book makes. no. fucking. sense.

Neither forgiving nor forgetting, he put it all aside for the time being and just held her for a while.


Hey, I'm no cynic. (Okay, I am.) I liked Sabrina. I'm all for love where a couple that has nothing in common manage to find romance against all odds and somehow make it work. But it's not that Molly and Noah have nothing in common, they have actually been on opposites sides of a conflict fraught with murder plots, violence and deceit. And I'm not talking some Romeo & Juliet shit here either. Molly and Noah have been active participants in this treachery.

Nonetheless, the two are back in each other's lying, deceitful arms. And there is no time make-up sex.

Molly's traveling companions had gone on ahead to test the waters at La Guardia in preparation for their flight west toward less hostile environs. According to the news the DHS had taken the nation to high alert over the weekend, and that put the airports at the very highest level; this was obviously cause for concern. Sure enough, word had reached her that the first of her friends to pass through the TSA checkpoint had been singled out and pulled aside. They weren't just searched and harassed, as had often been the case in recent years; this time they were arrested and detained.

Molly explained that she had to get out of town and make it to a rendezvous across the country as quickly as possible. Driving wouldn't do; she had to fly in order to make it.

You know, I think maybe at this point, we're just reading the author's outline. It doesn't read like an actual novel. Just some jotted down ideas, some notes that will need to be fleshed out, later perhaps. I feel like I've stumbled onto Tolkien's background sketches for The Hobbit. If Tolkien was a dumbass.

Noah was listening, and he was also studying her face as she spoke. The passing resemblance to that picture of his mother was almost gone now that she'd ceased to maintain it. That likeness had been subliminal at best, just enough to hook into his subconscious. But now, as they sat under the bright fluorescent lights of a Queens diner, he realized that there was absolutely no denying who Molly did look like.

And that gave him an absolutely brilliant idea.

Anyone care to guess what Noah's brilliant idea is? No, don't bother. You'll never guess. You're not a dumbass. You could never guess. No one could. It's that bad.

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