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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Narcissus in Chains Chapter Forty Two

Dottie's break down here

Seriously, what the fuck is happening here? I ask because the cops just drove away and left Anita at the crime scene. She is literally standing around looking at the blood on her floor. WAT. This makes zero sense. This place would be cordoned off and they would have her ass down at the station questioning her. Even if they're going to cover it up because who cares about shapeshifters (sigh) they would at least go through the basic motions of investigating just as a cover your ass measure. Goddamit, these books are so stupid. I know I say that a lot but sometimes I'm just left so flat footed by the mistakes that I can't come up with anything more articulate.

Anita at least has the deceny to admit that without Claudia and Igor to help her, she'd probably be dead. Nathaniel turns up because he figures he ought to clean the broken glass off the floor. Anita starts to react to the stress of everything that has happened now that the immediate danger is over. She's trying desperately not to cry, and won't let Nathaniel comfort her for fear that she won't be able to hold back if he hugs her.

"I'd already cried once today; that was all I was allowed."

Ouch. I feel for her in this scene. She's so hamstrung emotionally that she can't figure out how to properly express her feelings. She's spent so long dealing with the immense stress in her life by simply charging forward willy nilly that now she doesn't have the skills that would allow her to properly purge her stress, stress that must be sending her to an early grave by now. It's sad,desperately sad.

I think one of LKH's fundamental issues as a writer is that she seems incapable of viewing her work as a story separate from herself. Of course an author should empathize with their characters, but if that author can't step back and take an objective look at their manuscript, well, that's a fatal flaw. I say that because if she was capable of the appropriate amount of distance from her creation, this sort of emotional turmoil could make for a very compelling tale. Unfortunately, LKH never learned good study skills (i.e. she is a chronic panster, who finishes everything at the very last second, which means she has no time to edit even if she wanted to) and she's convinced that her shit smells like fresh baked cinnamon rolls. That is to say, she's under the delusion that her readers want to know every puerile, ridiculous thought she's ever had, and they want to hear it through her author avatar.

Or, in short, don't get attached to this moment of emotional realism because LKH is just waiting to disappoint you again.

Nathaniel "shook me by the arm"--jesus that's awkward--which makes him dangerous somehow. However, there's another interesting moment where Anita thinks that she was so focused on forcing him to be autonomous that she never realized she might not approve of his personality once he's become the author of his own destiny. Now that is interesting stuff. 

Why are you doing this to me, book?

Micah turns up and I am subjected to another monologue about how delicate and feminine he is. I do not get LKH's obsession with feminine men who are also somehow traditionally masculine. Is it that she has equated feminine with submissive, and all men must be in service to Anita and her towering exemplary masculine femaleness? Is it that she has repressed homosexual urges but can't bring herself to write about actual icky gay people? Does she wish she had the courage to write genderqueer characters (I doubt it, I doubt LKH even knows that genderqueer is) but has to assure us that they're actually very male after all? I don't know. All I know is that it's fucked up.

She realizes she doesn't know Micah well enough to love him. I'll take the flashes of common sense where I can get them.

Nathaniel is put out because Anita won't accept comfort from him. He asks why Anita won't "let him in" and points out that "not everything has to be a fight." She informs him that for her, it does. Why? Again, why? I don't think I've read anything about this character that would justify her extreme aversion to emotional connections. I don't mean to make light of her pain, per se, but a guy rejecting you in college is a hell of a thing to still be caught up on almost fifteen years later. Her mother died and that's terrible, but many people lose parents and don't go on to develop such extreme avoidance.

I guess I have to add avoidant to her list of personality disorders. Except personality disorders are often triggered by childhood trauma (not always, imo there's a biological and genetic component to some of these things) and Anita had, more or less, a very charmed life. She's known loss, but overall she's been well taken care of. She went to college. She has a good job. (in theory, since she never does her job). She has a highly desirable skill set, in that she is an animator, educated, and (supposedly) knows a thing or two about police work. So where is all the angst coming from?

I don't want to make light of what she's been through simply because she has a lot of privilege, but because of that privilege I need to be shown, as the reader, what the genesis of her angst is. It can't be assumed. It becomes less obvious the more privilege a character has. Now, I think privilege can be misused as a concept. I have, many times, seen it used as a bludgeoning tool or as an excuse to dismiss someone's pain. But it is true that the more boxes you can check, the easier certain things become. The gears of the world have a lot of extra grease when you have privilege. Doors open and opportunities afford themselves to you in a way that they might not otherwise.

Anita, for example, didn't grow up in a neighborhood with a lot of gang activity. If she had, I could understand her reluctance to emotionally connect with others since such situations require a certain hard outer shell in order to survive. Or, say, if Anita were presenting as Mexican as opposed to so white she's translucent, that would serve as a kind of short hand for this character has experienced a level of discrimination that white people do not experience, and therefore it has quite rightly made her mistrustful. But Anita has none of those markers, so I need to know her on a deeper level than I do right now. Is she mentally ill? Did a close friend get murdered? Did her father beat her? Something.Because otherwise she just comes across as stubborn and wangsty instead of angsty. No one wants to read the oh woe is me act, especially if it's almost entirely unwarranted.

There's a scene I actually enjoy where Anita and Micah both make the effort to comfort Nathaniel. Micah purrs in human form which I find oddly endearing. Nathaniel cries and that gives Anita permission to cry.

This chapter did not 100% suck. I am shocked.


  1. I swear, I think she's a narcissist, or at least a sociopath, as per my comment on Dottie's page. I just can't understand Anita as a character without presuming she's possessed of these problems.

    These attitudes about anyone outside of heterosexual norms get interesting when you realize Laurell's now part of a polyamorous relationship. I don't know if it means she finally became less painful on her characters when it came to relationships (I stopped reading after Cerulean Sins) though.

    1. Yeah she goes on about her girlfriend a lot. If Shutdown is any indication she is not doing a bang up job of poly though.

  2. No. Just no. There is no way in hell the police just leave after a massive firefight. No. Even dumb action flicks always have the protagonist go down to the station for questioning, to give some semblance to reality.

    1. I wish I could post images in the comments, but I could only think of this with your comment: