Oct 13, 2014

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot --- Chapter III (not a review)

We're not good at reviews unless we can complain about Hollywood producers not understanding what "ion propulsion" means, or not knowing about the ambient temperature on Titan, the Saturn moon, or/and so on.

So this is not a review but a post about the third chapter of Dave Shafer's debut novel "Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot." We're jealous of the success of his book, of course, but that doesn't keep us from really loving the third chapter. The book is about a global conspiracy (data, computers, etc) but we have no clear idea of the conspiracy yet in Chapter III where we meet the main protagonist of the story, Mark Devreaux. Mark graduated from Harvard, like his ex-friend Leo, another important protagonist---amazing how many people graduate from Harvard in American novels (although Shafer graduated from Harvard himself, so he holds some poetic license).

Dave Shafer
Mark is/was a copy writer at some internet upstart---amazing how low Harvard graduates can fall in American novels---but then he has a creative night with OxyContin (the drug), Pouilly-Fuissé (the chardonnay, usually overpriced in our opinion---St. Veran, also a white Beaujolais, has a much better quality-price quotient) and with an IBM selectric (that was/is a typewriter, a technology not quite up to the tricks of ion-propulsion). So Mark pulls an all-nighter and writes a piece about "Motivation in an Unjust World." The piece is discovered by James Shaw, the quasillionaire and godfather of the conspiracy we don't know of yet, so Mark is duly booked for Margo!, a talk show hosted by Margo, the Oprah Winfrey look-alike.

(The rest of this post is quotes from the chapter, "New York City." Let's hope we don't violate copyrights; let's also hope you'll get the gist/vibes:)

"-'Right this way Mr. Devreaux.' [...]
-'Yeah, listen,' [Mark] said to the PA, 'I believe that my representative told the person that she liaised with here that I would be needing a private room to prepare? With a window?' [...] The PA nodded slowly and blinked twice. He looked at his clipboard.
-'Ah, sure.' He exhaled. The microphone part of the headset he wore looked like a big fat fly hovering before his mouth. [...] Everything was pretty much as he had hoped for; the attractive assistant who sat primly in the backseat with him [...] and she worked the thumb wheel on her BlackBerry as though it were a rosary; once [Mark] got to the studio, there was a sort of event horizon that preceded him by fifty yards within which everyone appeared to be aware of him and of who he was. [...]

"Yes, I think you can, thought Mark, giddy with the sense, as he was so often these days, that the world would and could accommodate him. Was it zero-sum? A pretty girl was going to lead him to a private room in a TV studio; did that mean that someone else, somewhere else, was not receiving such treatment? He thought not. Although there were probably not enough private jets for everyone. [...]

"There was a lack of feeling in the way she deferred to him [...] [He] saw the gates of truth swing open. [...] She was standing at the open door of a small room, gesturing within-ward. There was something curlicued about the flourish of her gesture, which finished palm up and elbow sharp." [...] 'The natural light helps to clear my mind' [he said to her]. 'Yes, of course.' [...] He smoked with intent. [...] And he was no fraud, just a little tired off his own shtick. [...].

"He gave Margo's hand a squeeze, did the wave-into-the-light-thing, seated himself in the guest chair with slighty exaggerated settling-himself motions. [...] She said he had changed millions of lives. [...]

"'Well, as you say in your book,' [Margo said] 'you futurized, committed, and strove.' [...] 'I think many, many people have found those words inspiring. Don't you?'
-'Apparently, yes´[Mark answered]. [...] He drew in breath to speak, but then held it, creating the kind of pause that, on television, fells like weeks. [...] 'We're changing all the time. There is no stasis. But that's incredibly good news. It means that we can always become better.'
-'More successful.'
-'Ahhhm, yes. More successful.'

"'You know what, Mark?' said Margo. 'I do remember those days. I once had to sell my piano to make a month's rent.'
-'Your piano? Oh, what a shame. Tell me about that piano.' [...] 'I've read that you have twelve pianos now. Is that true?'
-'Oh, Mark, I love music.'

"He could feel it; ten million people wanted him to cry. So he thought of his little dog, from long ago. [...] A wave of pure grief climbed through his chest and throat and settled in his jaw, where the camera caught it quivering. Tears came to his eyes, and when he spoke next, his voice was thickened by the humidity in his head. [...] Across America, women saw a strong man crying about something abstract. [...]

"'Mention away'."

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