Last week: Shooting Wars and House of Leaves

The experience of reading the graphic novel Shooting War is not unlike reading House of Leaves.  Though I feel like I should say reading House of Leaves is like reading a graphic novel like Shooting War.  Flipping the book around and being confused about where to read next is part of the process of reading a graphic novel (according to my limited experience reading graphic novels).  There are variations in confusion levels from graphic novel to graphic novel, but readers still expect the multimedia jumble of words and pictures.  Readers of standard novels don’t.

So while reading Shooting War wasn’t a completely mind-blowing experience, it was still fun to enter into the world of the graphic novel.  Being a generally apolitical person, I wasn’t paying so much attention to the politics as much as the plot lines and the stylistic techniques.  I liked the graphic novel’s sense of play:  with images, with text, with photographs, with screen shots, with predictions for the future.

The Shooting War, like House of Leaves, attempts to provide a representation of film through essentially still images, like text and drawings.  To do this, the Shooting War has to find creative ways of slowing down and speeding up time.  Whereas House of Leaves put single words on each page to slow things down, Shooting Wars might feature a single image on a two page spread.  Both House of Leaves and Shooting Wars used timers on cameras to show time.

I haven’t actually finished the graphic novel yet (I’m halfway through), so I’m not sure how the authors plan to end this thing.

snooting war

Before even opening this graphic novel, I had my thoughts on what would be inside. I figured, Michael Moore as a graphic novel writer. leftist, elistist perspective on American journalism, American consumerism, American wars, American politics, America, Americans. and just when I thought no one could ever exist at a position further left then someone like Michael Moore, I wasn’t proven wrong. Anthony Lappé is a god. A man who exists outside the realm of left and right. A real objective point-of-view, finally.

well wait. let me adjust my tone. I’ve just noticed that I was about to critique Anthony Lappé and Shooting War within a larger realm than the one that he was critiquing in Shooting War, one containing he and Shooting War as well as Michael Moore, and George Bush, and everyone who drinks lattés at Starbucks while donning American Apparel’s spandex monstrosities. So I guess I can’t really find a way around taking a similar position as Anthony Lappé’s position in Shooting War as author, as author of this post; therefore, I can’t criticize the elistist position that he takes, though I can still call him an elistist.

and a leftist as well, as Shooting War starts off as just another American’s rant about how the American government, businesses, and news stations are all working together to keep the fickle Americans in fear of just about anything and everything, sometimes things not even plausible, so that they will continue to consume…like that report in the 90’s about how the killer bees were on their way to the US. one of the events that never happened and was probably always a hoax…Michael Moore pointed out that one.

But Anthony Lappé and Shooting War are different from Michael Moore and his films. Mostly in that Lappé examines people like Michael Moore and the angry bloggers as being part of the system of American journalism and consumerism. Burns is bought out by a big American news corporation after his apartment, where he used to blog rants about how terrible and money-hungry American news corporations are, is blown up in a terrorist attack. To me, this looks like Lappé’s statement on how people like Moore have gotten rich off of making news about America making news.

shooting war

i’m not sure whether shooting war is a tongue-in-cheek mockery of the whole idea of news blogging or if it’s really trying to be anti-big media but either way it seems to be trying to hard. i feel like the author is constantly trying to show off that he himself is in fact a hipster with his references to american apparel [simultaneously hating it because it’s a corporation but also saying he’s a good person because he buys sweatshop free], making the main character be a hipster from the trendiest area of brooklyn [which so far has given nothing to the story or his character because it doesn’t add significance to his situation] or it being a starbucks blown up [corporations boo!].

he’s way to upfront about everything that it’s hard to take him seriously. it’s like some art school drop out with a trust fund from his parents that grew up reading micheal moore and hating capitalism decided to write a book. maybe he’s mocking that whole cutlure, i don’t know.

i see where he’s going with mass-media crushing the voice of independent news, the whole covering up of the speech bubbles was clever, using bill o’reilly was kind of just a cheap shot because no one takes him seriously [though really would he use the word poser?].

i don’t know, i haven’t seen anything in the book i haven’t seen before. so far it’s just preaching to the choir and hasn’t raised any new questions. the main character seems like the caricature the right would make of the left but this book is definitely from a leftist point of view [and yes i know right and left have no meaning but it’s the only way to write about their meaninglessness].

maybe it’s someone mocking his own culture or making people within his group reexamine themselves so that they see how other people percieve their arguements or maybe it’s jus some guy so immersed within the world he doesn’t see how ridiculous and overplayed it comes across.

Elton John’s cause of death?

I’m trying to draw connections between some different ideas and events and things we’ve read, so bear with me.  Maybe the connections aren’t there, I just think they are…this isn’t the preoccupation with connections of the paranoia essay though.

So there are the recent attacks in Mumbai, there is an article by the BBC that comments on the attacks and the age of “celebrity terrorism”, and there is Shooting War – those are the ingredients to the mess.  The only thing I want to connect between Mumbai and Shooting War is the appearance of a previously unknown terrorist group – there’s not much more to offer about a graphic novel and a recent tragedy that would be worthwhile at this moment.  It is still too recent.

The article and the novel, however, they offer an interesting analysis on the role of celebrity.  The article offers the view that perhaps the motive isn’t clear cut at all for this group, that perhaps this was an act of violence for violence’s sake, but the media and the analysts and just about everybody who is interested in the events, disect what went on and assign a motive because they need one for themselves.  They act in such a manner to get attention and not because of a large greivence but because of a minor one.  They use violence to be noticed as people and not for a cause.  It’s much easier to excuse/forgive a cause as a reason, than to look at something so violent and think of it as an attempt for recognition, recognition that is given by the media.

Shooting War, like Trish said, is heavy-handed in its portrayal of soldiers, of the spin media places on a story and the emphasis it lends to certain extremes and the business of getting a good story.  Burns doesn’t seem to be on a quest for celebrity nor is that the motivation for Abu Adallah, but Burns is in some ways turned into a celebrity and maybe even wants that role – given the blogs and the willingness to cover Iraq for Global.  Adallah uses the media, manipulates it and the celebrity it grants him, and uses the platform it gives him to  exspouse his ideas.  He is traditional in his use of media, but Burns could be better compared to the ambiguous motivation of celebrity that those acting in Mumbai might possess.  It’s not a fully formed idea.

Impressions of Shooting War

Anthony Lappé and Dan Goldman capture very well the banality and shallowness of much of the broadcast media in Shooting War.  We see it immediately with the ubiquitous attractive female anchor (perfectly named “Briana”) with her vacuous questions (“But tell us, what was it like to have a bomb go off so close to you”) and breathless exaggeration (“It was truly incredible live television. Truly incredible reporting”).  Of course, every event has a special graphic, including disasters (“Brooklyn Explodes” with a Starbucks logo behind it; “Bangalore Nightmare”), turning tragedies into media commodities.

Shooting War itself is a panoply of stereotypes: the idealistic “independent” blogger who gets sucked into the Establishment media but ultimately decides to “do the right thing” and not be a sell-out; the slutty, self-absorbed magazine reporter; the crazy, out-of-control soldier in the form of Lt. Col. “Crash” Crowley (a la “Apocalypse Now”); the demur but street-savvy native producer; the high-tech terrorist with a Plan for world domination; the mysterious CIA-type “watcher”; and so on. In a way, that well captures what the media, most particularly broadcast media, are constantly seeking: images and stories that horrify or tug at the heart strings, with characters and situations that “fit” a type or preconception rather than be overly complicated or nuanced. Additionally, American “branding” is everywhere, from KFC to McDonalds, a sort of commentary on the notion that everywhere America goes, even in a war zone, we bring with us our commercialization and capitalism.

I find Shooting War to be overtly cynical, highly politicized (not one honorable soldier in the bunch), lopsided, and heavy-handed, but also bitingly satirical.  It achieves what it sets out to do, I think, and also shows how the growth of amateur video reporting (and the presence of YouTube) has “democratized” reporting and has circumvented both governments (of the left and the right) and mainstream media.

Finally, as a graphic novel, this also has a special kind of structure that makes it necessarily telegraphic.  It’s like looking at a storyboard for a movie; you get the main narrative and the pictures show the action and emotion (the reader doesn’t have to “imagine” the action), but it’s like reading Spark’s Notes without the accompanying analysis. It’s an interesting way to visit the new media and its reimagining of the novel, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

Bloggin bout Bolano

A smattering of reviews for Roberto Bolano’s The Savage Detectives:

 

‘Bolano’s ambition is huge; his capacity to tell stories, never-ending…What impresses us is the fine ear of Bolano, who can masterfully create so many different voices, each of them telling a story…The most important writer of the Spanish language of this generation.’ –Horacio Moya, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

 

‘It’s no exaggeration to call [Bolano] a genius.  The Savage Detectives alone should grant him immortality.  It’s an outstanding meditation on art, truth, and the search for the roots and the self…Astounding.’  Ilan Stavans, The Washington Post Book World

 

‘It’s great literature about literature that is lost—or, for that matter, was never fated to be—which in essence, pretty much encompasses everything else in life—except this book, whose appearance in English is a major literary occasion.’ –Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News

 

Beyond this praise, the book was chosen as one of the ten best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review, it won two of the most prestigious Spanish awards: the Herralde Prize and the Romulo Gallegos Prize.  So, in light of this, I will now say that I’m terribly disappointed.  Four-hundred and ninety pages in and I’m not sure what I’m reading.  One review says that it’s a search for a long lost poet: I’d say about twenty pages thus far have been devoted to that story line.  The introduction made it sound like the book was about the perseverance of art in the modern world: I’d say that theme is a strong undercurrent, but far from dominant and far from controlling the narrative.  There are so many characters and so many stories and so many disappearing characters and stories that I’m not sure what to focus on.  The parallels between these stories are tentative at best, and I’m afraid to say less postmodern than my research paper would require.  A terrible weight, therefore, is upon my shoulders as I hit the homestretch.  The weight of crafting some themes that are not merely superficial exaggerations of postmodern stylings in the novel; the weight of trying to use the novel to back up the strong postmodern points brought up in the introduction which I’ve yet to see fully evinced in the book itself; the weight of getting a good grade on a paper about a book whose size is forcing me to sacrifice my lesser obligations this Thanksgiving, such as enjoying college football and enjoying some nature on a horse ride.  I do have hope, however, that soon this novel will take a turn; that the endless stream of interviews will slow down and begin to form a much needed conclusion which hopefully applies to the postcolonial and postmodern themes I had assumed the book would tackle.  I’ve talked about postmodernism’s love to disrupt expectations in blogs before.  Unfortunately now I’m confronted with some real consequences, and I find it not as stimulating as I do infuriating. 

narrative modes in The People of Paper

The multiple-character narrative mode is something that interested me most in Salvador Plascencia’s style of writing in this book. The story alternates between first and third person POVs. Many of the characters, such as Little Merced and characters that come encounter with Little Merced and Frederico de la Fe, such as the mechanic and Santos. However, Santos’ narrative perspective shifts from first to third later on– it is only in first-person when he is  coming in contact with Little Merced and Frederico, when the story is still only about those two characters. Santos’ narrative perspective switched to third-person when he becomes part of the story, when the story broadens. So it would seem that Plascencia used the first-person POV when he wanted a character to act as a storyteller, but from a more personal POV, unlike a third-person omniscient narrator like the Baby Nostradamus has constantly and Saturn at times.

The narrative mode applied to Saturn’s character is complex as well, as it is sometimes a third-person omniscient POV and a first-person personal POV at other times when his character becomes a part of the story. Once Saturn becomes a part of the story and his narrative perspective changes to first-person, characters from Salvador Plascencia’s real life come into the story as well, like Ralph and Elisa Landin, to whom a third-person narrative is always applied. Even Liz comes into the story, and though it would sometimes seem that her character is given a first-person perspective through dialogue, her dialogue is always controlled by Saturn/Salvador, because her sides of conversations are really just pieces of S/S’s thought dialogue. So in other words, anytime Liz is speaking, her words are just S/S’s thoughts. The fact that these conversations are thought dialogue and not really happening is obvious because of the way that nothing is in quotations.

 

I will be writing more on the narrative style in The People of Paper and other postmodern/magical realist works in my final paper.

difference in kafka’s magical realism

one of the qualifications of magical realism that the article gives is that, to the characters, the laws and rules of the world in which they exist is never questioned. the fact that someone can turn into a bug overnight may be undesirable but it can still happen in the world of the characters.

there are times, however, that kafka bends these so-called rules of magical realism. of course, the idea that he can bend rules of a genre before it even existed is a little ridiculous, but he does take a different approach in some respects.

it both ‘the trial’ and ‘the castle’, the protagonists [in each named k.] is in a world that makes no sense to them. in the trial, k. is charged with a crime he never knows the nature of, and spends the rest of his life struggling to manipulate his way through a ridiculous system of courts and lawyers. k. never fully believes in the world he exists in but sees it as unreal and irrational. however, he is the only character within the story that thinks this way, to the others–both his relatives and those within the court–the world in completely rational.the castle is very similar, where k. comes to a country as a land-surveyor and finds himself in a world without rationality. he doesn’t play by the rules of the world and therefore finds himself ostracized.

the protagonist/reader relationship is then brought to the front because we are alongside k. trying to figure out how the world operates in ways that make no sense to us. the world against the protagonist is the most common kafka theme and it becomes even more apparent the more k.’s idea of how the world works differs from how it works within the castle and the trail. kafka must have surely felt isolated from the world if it seemed irrational to him.

i tried thinking of what would happen in ‘people of paper’ if one of the characters was like k. and didn’t buy into it.  what if one didn’t accept that their life could be narrated by someone who named themselves after a planet, that they couldn’t go into the sky, that mechanical turtles don’t exist, that people can’t be made out of people, and babies can’t tell the future?

Disclaimer right off the bat…I don’t think of myself as any sort of expert on magical realism, and my experience is limited to a series of short stories I’ve read in my Spanish 309 class last spring, most notably, those by Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez – in particular, “Dos Palabras” and “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.”  I will throw in my late night read of Like Water for Chocolate into the mix as well.  It should help explain where I am coming from.

Flores doesn’t go into an in depth explanation of what qualifies a work as being magical realism, but he does list a few of his ideas, and one of the things that I don’t believe he mentions is the presence of sadness/loneliness that the stories seem to carry with them.  It wasn’t mentioned in Faris’ list either.  You can’t miss the sadness in People of Paper, and it is hard to ignore in any of the works that I am basing this overarching generalization on.  They are rarely the type of stories that make you cry, if you are prone to that sort of thing.  It is never that type of intense emotion, maybe because the characters tend to be held at a distance.  They have their little quirks, but they also feel a bit like stereotypes.  They are playing a part, and their sadness is a part of that.

Some of the stories have happy endings, and others have those endings where you aren’t quite sure.  Is Little Merced and her father walking away from Saturn and El Monte a good thing?  A happy thing?  Is it a satisfaction of the criteria of postmodernism to frustrate the readers’ expectations?  I don’t know.  Could you say that the characters of most magical realism stories could be classified as tragic characters?  Or is the sadness that surrounds them not of a degree to be really tragic?  For this point I am thinking of Marquez’s story, because I am not sure if it could be said that anything is particularly tragic about it.  Maybe it is a comedy, but nobody gets married in the end.  But it is a story of sadness – an old man lost and made into a spectical, the frustrations of a priest, and besides it has the great line, “The world had been sad since Tuesday.”

Characters as Stand-ins

In class the other day I half jokingly suggested that maybe every character in The People of Paper was in some way a stand-in for the author (or “Authors” in general).  I abandoned the idea, but there is definitely a fluidity, a “fungibility,” of characters in this book. One could certainly make the case that nearly everyone in it stands for something else.  I offer this interpretation when I go back to the end of Part II, which includes as its last line, “Start this book over, without me” (138).  Sure enough, Plascencia does “start the book over,” but there is no escaping Liz (the point being, perhaps, that you can disguise or invent people and events in a fictitious novel, but your own life experiences, including the people you know, will somehow make their way, consciously or unconsciously, into your writing).  Federico de la Fe pines for Merced, the wife who left him long ago for a white man (appropriately named Jonathan Smith, like the Captain John Smith who brought the Europeans over and vanquished an indigenous population).  Federico writes to her, he hopes for her return, and he carefully prepares a perfect lawn that won’t hurt her knees when she comes crawling back to him (he wishes).  Merced never comes back, however, just as Liz never returns.

Also consider Baby Nostradamus, another stand-in for the author perhaps, who is baptized in the Church of Thieves (is it really the Catholic Church or something else; think publishers and editors) that is satirized as the Circles of Hell in Dante’s Inferno (175-76). Baby Nostradamus’s footprint on the parchment shows “maps and timelines of the world, fortunes we were never intended to see” (177), a footprint Apolonia quickly smudges to ensure that the Cardinal does not see it. The author, like Baby Nostradamus, naturally knows what’s in store for the characters.  Also, Little Merced is “resurrected,” on the whim of the author or perhaps by an imagined reader demand (Conan Dolye, after all, had to bring back Sherlock Holmes after initially killing him off). Little Merced, however, is never the same; she breathes out a kind of stench that cannot be remedied. Sometimes characters overstay their welcome in a novel, and it’s necessary for an author to kill them off when they offer nothing new to the narrative; otherwise they just hang around and stink up the story (“Even the words of Little Merced smelled like rot,” says Julieta [217]).

Even Samson, who destroys the Philistines by pushing over the columns of a coliseum (234), is something of a stand-in for the author; he challenges those who would constrain and chain him, but destroys himself along with all the spectators.  In the same way, the author is consumed, even devoured, by his work and his characters.

In the end, despite the “substitution” of Merced for Liz, Liz still comes back into the story, evidenced by Saturn/Sal’s failed phone calls (236) and her transition to old age, still with her husband-who-is-not-Sal (244-45). She has a way of dominating the novel, no matter how vigorously she and the author resist or try to rewrite history.  It’s a daunting problem: How does one put words onto paper, specifically a narrative story, that express the sadness and loss experienced after a failed relationship? Perhaps the novel is one answer to that question.

Comments on the experience of reading The People of Paper

I plan to write the final paper on The People of Paper, and I find that I don’t really know what to say about it from an English major’s point of view.  What I remember is concrete images, like how Frederico de la Fe and his wife Merced stuffed their mattress with fresh hay and mint leaves, how the enamel on Little Merced’s teeth starts to rot because of her addiction to limes, the way Cameroon dealt with the pain of her father’s abandonment by maintaining a constant fever induced by hundreds of stinging beesl.

While doing some initial research, I found this review from The Mumpsimus blog that was actually quoted in the inside of the novel (the paperback edition with the blue cover and the paper hands).  The reviewer, Matthew Cheney (author/editor/high school teacher), had this to say about the experience of reading the book:

I will admit that I got so caught up in what the book was doing to me that I abandoned many of my analytical facilities and faculties in a fit of enchanted downsizing, that I didn’t stop to think about structure or symmetry, that I didn’t separate the elements based on visions of Intro to Lit textbooks dancing like sugarplums in my no-longer-New Critical brain. I read the book like a person in the first throes of love, blindly, enraptured, captured, chained, and, in the end, tortured and bereft.

That’s pretty much how I felt about reading this book.  Now I have to go back and reread it with the goal of untangling its postmodern concepts and techniques, which I’m afraid will ruin the experience for me.  Clearly, what interests me most (based on what I remember most) are all the ways that the characters deal with pain, and how that relates to the way Salvador Plascencia attempts to deal with his pain via writing the novel.  Maybe that is where I will start thinking about the book for the paper.

Saturn

After finishing Part I of The People of Paper, I had come to the conclusion that Saturn was supposed to be a representation of God completely, nothing else. I had decided that Plascencia was using Saturn’s character to make a commentary on peoples’ relationships with the infinitely powerful Catholic God, overseer of the world and all of life on it. The people of the novel are warring with Saturn, seeing S as a threat, a tyrranous force destroying all of their lives, causing their turmoils and losses. Frederico de la Fe thinks that Saturn is the force that drove his wife Merced away, and he wants an army to fight S to finally be free of sadness and unrest. I still think that this is an absurd commentary on monotheistic religions and Plascencia’s cynical, sardonic mockery or doubt of the goodness of God people who subscribe to monotheistic religions believe in. I especially think this because of the way saints come to be in the novel. However, I no longer believe that this is Saturn’s only meaning in the novel, as I have discovered who Saturn actually is. I am now wondering how much of this book is based on the going-ons of Plascencia’s real life as he was writing the novel. Reading biographies, I’ve discovered that much of the novel is based on the authors life- places especially, and the nationalities of characters. I guess that what I am saying is that Saturn is Plascencia, and is doing in the novel what Plascencia the author is doing to the novel. Plascencia is creating the turmoil for the characters in the novel and they are fighting back against him. Characters in the novel even feel violated by Saturn’s telling/writing about the private lives, and I wonder if Plascencia has put a lot about a past relationship in the novel that he may think someone may not like to see he’s written about. Plascencia seems to be making an overall statement on an author’s relationship to a novel and its characters as a God, and he is therefore the God of the novel and can do whatever he wants to do, write whatever he feels like.

people of paper

my favorite thing about people of paper is how it calls into question the character/narrator/author/reader relationship. novels exist with the idea that there is an author who either makes himself the narrator (third person) or who creates a character to narrate. we are then told the story through the eyes of that character.

as a reader, we don’t always remember that the characters of the book and all of their actions are determined by the author. if the author is good and develops characters well, we believe that we are witnessing real people existing in their own world and the narrator is either one of the characters telling us what happened (first person) or some omniscient narrators spying on a bunch of people living their lives.

people of paper gives us both perspectives. on the one hand, we have little mercede and many other characters telling us, directly their stories because we see it through the eyes of saturn, or plasencia. other times their is an omniscient narrator telling us what is happening in these characters lives. what is interesting is that the two characters that seem to be the center of the story don’t get to narrate their own lives. the story is about plasencia’s struggle to find happiness as he writes about fernando’s struggle to find happiness yet fernando doesn’t get to tell us about his struggle. we only hear about it from saturn and everyone else around him. saturn doesn’t even tell us the story of his own unhappiness but narrates his own life in third person.

still, these are only characters created by an author, but plasencia wants us to believe more than that. he makes their world seem more real by making us–the reader–believe that by reading the book we are invading it. of course, by writing the book, he too is invading it–and he makes sure to point this out. in a way, it expresses what reality tv does. we are given unreal characters, a fictional plot, and expected to believe it is real. somehow though, i find myself identifying with his characters much more than if they were part of a reality show. though the stories might not be real, the emotions underlying it definitely are.

Week #12 (assuming we skipped #11) – Metaphors for writing in People of Paper

We’ve already mentioned in class the big metaphor between Antonio’s origami creations and the act of writing.  Antonio heals with paper, performing surgery on cats and eventually humans, and he also creates life with paper, through the character we come to know as Merced de Papel.  Professor Sample asked for examples of other ways Plascencia references other metaphors of writing in The People of Paper, and the only one I could come up with was the frequent description of blood as ink.  There are others.

On page 15, Antonio creates Merced the Papel from pieces of paper that he has collected, including pages from literature:  Austen, Cervantes, Leviticus, Judges, and The Book of Incandescent Light.  This strikes me as a metaphor for the way an author is influenced by existing literature.  However, The Book of Incandescent Light isn’t an actual book, as far as I know (apparently the monk named fifty-three wrote it)-though it is periodically referenced in The People of Paper as if it were an existing book.  This is not unlike MZD’s references to completely made-up references in House of Leaves, which scrambled the boundaries between real texts and imaginary ones.

Merced de Papel’s behavior could be interpreted as a symbol for a written work-even a symbol for the written work in which she was created.  For example, she steps over Antonio, her creator, when he passes out from exhaustion and paper cuts, and takes on a life of her own.  Plascencia has Frederico de la Fe and EMF do something similar to the author, Saturn, when he is made vulnerable by his breakup with Liz (which was due in part to his obsession with writing the book).  Also, she causes pain to men who are intimate with her.  This could allude to the pain in the novel, the specific pain of a man in love.

There seems to be something significant in the fact that she has the same name as Frederico de la Fe’s wife, Merced, and his daughter, Little Merced.  It reminded me of the part of Dream Jungle when Paz Marlowe’s mother reveals that all the miscarried children were given the same names.  It may also have something to do with the fact that many of the characters’ actions or situations overlap with the authors’.  These characters aren’t static personalities.

I was also confused about how Merced de Papel had “lost her civilization” and why she was the “only known survivor of her people.”  Is this a commentary on her specific type of literary character?  Who are her people?  Why aren’t there any more of them?

Eight planets

Alpolonio was right there are only eight planets in the solar system.  But it isn’t because Saturn left, but because Pluto was demoted in 2006.  Just a side note, in case you missed it being regaled to its dwarf planet status.

The force of Saturn, the unseen hand that propells events, good and bad within the story has been revealed, but it wasn’t all that suprising.  You can’t miss the multiple references to the force, or watching or some semblance of a presence – there is at least seven in the first twenty-five pages, give or take a few.  The reasoning behind the events, the evil omens, is also revealed, and again, it isn’t all that suprising.  It’s a woman.  The woman who broke Sal’s heart and leaves him dispondent and sprawled naked across his bed.  It’s the very same Liz of the dedication page.  Then comes what I found suprising, Liz’s request to Sal, for a story without her.  (Right after a short chapter in the first person who I am not sure who to attribute the narration to concerning Cami.)  But does he?  Is Saturn able to continue the story without the sadness and the need to unleash it on someone that had driven the action in the earlier parts of the story.  There are the few pages that list his name at the top of the left page column, but are followed by blank space for a span of time.  He continues the story, and after a brief respite, he is back in the mix, returning with “Napolenonic fevor” and the direction of the story, the punishment he seems to unleash on de la Fe does not seem the less.  It may be in fact all the more, with the weather systems working their ways around Morte, the irragation pipes being fixed to deprive the residents of water, and the lead poisoning from their attempts to shut Saturn out.  Perhaps further reading will disprove this idea, that the sadness is still there, that Liz is still in this novel regardless of a dedication page, but I am unconvinced.  She was there in the beginning when he started the story and I think she will be there in the end.