Day Three, Chapter Three
I know that size doesn’t matter, but today I’m obsessed with the length of this chapter – 414 words spread across three pages. (I’m counting “bench-press” and “white-faced” as two words just to give James an extra edge.) There’s a lot of white space here. The third page of this chapter only has 46 words on it. Since I never really pay attention to things like this, for comparison I turned to the page where my bookmark lies in the other book I am currently reading – Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco. Page 226 of Ilustrado has 456 words written on it. Four hundred and fifty-six. On a single page. And page 226 doesn’t appear any more dense than any other common novel – it’s just a regular book. What does this mean? That J.P. doesn’t mince words? He gets right to the point? Short, concise fiction that blows your goddamn hair back! Yeah!
For further comparison, since I cannot let this go, I randomly selected page 155 of the paperback version of Jose Saramago‘s Blindness. Saramago’s writing is known for the absence of punctuation or paragraph breaks, so I was hoping for like, 800 words, but I was greeted by a modest 386. Although I did have to count page 155 three times because I kept getting hypnotized by the lack of page breaks.
Yes, I’ve been counting the words on pages of books all day.
Anyway, a lot happens in Chapter Three! Casey wakes up after Sarah escapes out the bedroom window and tries to get her husband Marcus to “Do something, Marc. Do something.”
Marc, still half drunk, bellowed, “Who’s there?” Even when he was serious, he sounded scripted. “Show yourself.“
(I like that even the author knows that his characters sound scripted.) When Casey notices that they’ve been robbed, Marc shoots her in the chest. Well, specifically he aims “at the mole between his wife’s breasts”, just to get another breast reference in there. Casey gasps for Marc to help her (even though he just plugged her in the chest?) and he responds by shooting her again. And the curtain falls on the prologue.
Of course I want to see where all of this is going – bad prose and chapter counts aside. I think Patterson (or Paetro) is fairly skilled at getting his hook in early, but I still feel like I could easily walk away from this book and never have any regrets. But I can’t do that, especially with all the media hype this silly project has whipped up! For real, check out KPBS’s Culture Lust blog.
Go to Day Four.