Howdy all! It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had a chance to sit down and snark on a few more chapters of Ward’s much-vaunted vampire tome. (I blame my tenure packet, due in a little over a month to my department Chair.) I need to get back in the saddle and ride on through these last chapters, as there aren’t many left.
These last few chapters are for the most part short, silly, and incredibly oy-inducing. I hope y’all enjoy.
Chapter 41: Looooooving you…is easy ‘cause you’re beautiful…
On page 305, Beth wakes up beside her lover, and when he too awakens she finally professes her love to him: “I love you,” she says. This comes 44 pages after Wrath had said the same to her, but hers is a bit more tender; his “I love you” had been followed by “damn you! Goddamn you, don’t you let go!”
Here’s a question that’s sure to cause most of the Bitchery derisively to snort “Feh. Noob!”: in a typical romance novel, who says “I love you” first, the guy or the girl? And by how many pages? And under what circumstances are those words first spoken? Under duress? In times of tenderness? Out of sheer desperation? How typical is Dark Lover by this measure?
Beth and Wrath play another bedbound round of “hide the pickle” and then we’re sent back to Butch, who’s waking up in very different circumstances, namely in bed next to Vishous. “His new buddy. Fellow Red Sox fan. Wicked smart IT guy. Fricking vampire.”
Yes, Butch is starting to feel at home with these bloodsuckers. “You don’t have much to go back to [in your old life], do you?” Vishous asks him.
“Naw, I don’t have anything,” Butch answers after a considerable period of deliberation during which time he examines his job, his love life, his missing sister, his family (“in Southie”)…everything but his pet hamster Jo-Jo who died when he was in the second grade.
Their brief tête-à-tête done with, Vishous rolls over to get a few more hours of sleep, but not before doling out another dose of annoyingly stilted pseudogangsta slang: “If I’m not up by eight, wake me, true?”
Which reminds me of a really bad joke a friend of mine told me the other day, which must be told with a lazy urban drawl for it to be at all funny:
Q: What does Snoop Dogg have in his toolbox?
A: Four chisels.
Chapter 42: …And the award for Worst Use of Metonymy goes to…
As we begin this chapter Beth is going through her pre-matrimonial ablutions while learning to live with a rock the size of Glenn Beck’s ego on her finger. After smacking the thing against the bathroom countertop, she counts her blessings sardonically: “Would that all of life’s little adjustments be so hard. Fiancé slides a priceless hunk of geology on your finger. What a bummer.”
“Geology”? Really? Who on Earth would think, especially in the midst of a slang-laden inner monologue, to substitute the technical term for the academic study of an object for the object itself?
“Yeah, she’s a good Catholic. Only eats ichthyology on Fridays.”
“I gotta crunch the mathematics, but I’m thinking we’ll still be a few bucks short.”
“Her kitchen was overridden with the little fuckers, myrmecology all over the trash bin.”
As Beth continues to prep for the wedding ceremony, another female vampire shows up. “It’s Wellsie. I’m Tohr’s shellan.” She’s brought Beth a gown. “The dress was an antique, with black beading over lace on the bodice and a tremendous waterfall of a skirt.”
“Are you sure you want to lend it to me?” Beth asks.
“Clothes are meant to be worn. And that gown hasn’t been on a body since 1814.”
Beth decides to go with the gown, and to go along with Wellsie. As the only two BDB wives, they’ll have to stick together. I sense a strong buddy-buddy bond developing between these two over the course of the next several books.
This mercifully short chapter ends as Wrath and Vishous head out to “take care of something” before the wedding ceremony begins.
Chapter 43: Can we make spoons?
The better part of this chapter is spent in limning the nascent relationship between Butch and Marissa. All the while I was reading Marissa’s stilted dialogue, she reminded me very much of a character in some other book or in some movie, but I couldn’t put my finger on which character it was.
I was about halfway through the chapter when it finally dawned on me: Marissa is essentially Fabienne in Pulp Fiction. (Interestingly enough, Fabienne’s boyfriend is also named “Butch.” Coincidence? Probably.) Think about it: stilted dialogue? (“I feel safe. I feel pretty. And sometimes other things.”) Check. Hint of a vague, ill-defined accent? Check? Sexual naïveté? (“I get hot. Especially here…and here.”) Check. Every time I turned the page I expected to meet the line “any time is a good time for pie!”
All in all this chapter’s about the most awkwardly written in the book, and that’s saying a lot. There are wobbly attempts at clever construction, like Butch’s lament at Marissa’s seeming to suck the air from the room: “Where the hell was all the air in this part of North America?” (This line elicited the first of nine “oy”s I’d write in the margins of this chapter.) There are sad attempts at contemporary slangage, like “it was way time for a break.” And there are simply silly, but vaguely funny, sentences, like Butch’s observation regarding his discomfiture in dealing with his new ladylove: “a virgin vampire was a category of female he knew absolutely nothing about.”
Oh, and Zsadist likes chutney.
Chapter 44:These aren’t the droids you’re looking for
On the other side of town Wrath and Vishous are staking out Billy Riddle, when who should pull up but everyone’s favorite lesser, Mr. X. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Wrath says.
“That’s a lesser, my brother.”
Sadly, there’s no time to finish the job they’d come to do. The cops show up, driving “a nondescript American sedan.” Really, J.R.? Did the last check Chrysler send you bounce?
In any case, Wrath and Vishous dematerialize to safety, but not before they’ve wiped the humans’ minds clean of any traces of their encounter. Memoryless, the cops let Billy and Mr. X go on their merry way. Of course, the old vampire mind tricks don’t work on the forelesser Mr. X, and he remembers it all.
“The Blind King lived…The Blind King. In Caldwell.” Apparently Wrath’s reputation precedes him.
Next: It’s a…good day for a…dark wedding!