Riding Through London in a Mercedes: Dan and His Father-in-Law

The Snakes, p. 321 (making great progress, hope to finish by tomorrow): SPOILER-FREE

“Where are we going?” asked Dan.

“Wait and see.”

It was quiet in the car, and Dan didn’t notice the traffic. They drove through Camden Town and past the British Museum, then crossed the river at Waterloo, Elephant and Castle, the Old Kent Road, and gradually, the streets became familiar.

 

Self has done this walk, on foot.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

Big Daddy (Griff) Quote of the Day: The Snakes, p. 112

Dad tells his daughter Bea, certified sjw, that he thinks her husband might leave her because he’s: a) mixed race and Bea is white; b) he’s very good-looking, and Bea, unlike her mother, isn’t.

  • “The human need for justice can be exploited so easily, and waves of passion sweep over whole populations — the true belief that they are right — and then they’re liberated to do terrible things. The collective can turn either way.”

After dinner, Bea gets up to wash the dishes but her mother and Alex get to the kitchen ahead of her.

“We’re fine. We don’t need any help,” Bea’s mother says, and closes the kitchen door in Bea’s face.

Priceless, Priceless Quote of the Day, Self Can’t Even

The Snakes, p. 107

Griff (Bea’s Dad): You’re meant to flatter your kids, tell girls they’re beautiful. Whatever. I don’t care. You were never going to stop traffic. Not like your mum. Fighting them off, she was — still is, for all I know.

How come English writers can do this so well? Nothing like English melodrama. And they say the English are cold!

Remember how John Le Carré, not satisfied with his MC, George Smiley, being a spy, also had to make him a cuckold? And readers never complained or wound up thinking: this is taking away from the main story. It’s such a distraction!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Quote of the Day: The Snakes, p. 87

  • Griff: “I can’t stand rented cars. They’re always completely disgusting, and collecting them is a nightmare.”

Well hello there, Father of Bea.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

3rd Friday of July 2020: “It is time to check the snakes!”

Self hates snakes almost as much as she hates horror films involving dolls.

In Hard Target, Jean-Claude van Damme punches a snake and knocks it out. But she is not Jean-Claude van Damme.

Anyhoo, in this crucial crucial scene in The Snakes — a novel which self continues to love madly and beyond reason, despite a few questionable scenes (like the one in the barn) — we encounter ACTUAL SNAKES.

DEUS EX MACHINA, what?

Or Chekhov’s smoking gun?

Alex: “It’s time to check the snakes!”

(Self turns the page and begins Chapter 6)

Alex: “There are loads of snakes. But mostly they’re just grass snakes. They’re sort of company . . . They’ve got nice round eyes. It’s the vipers I don’t like. Asp vipers. Vipera aspis. They’re in the roof, and it pisses me off.”

Someone is going to be killed by a snake! Self is sure of it!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

 

3rd Thursday in July 2020: “Money Is the Root of All Evil”

Not a quote from The Snakes but since her progress is so slow, she may well be reading this novel for who knows how long. There are spoilers on goodreads but she has so far been successful in not reading them.

In the meantime, she has enormous sympathy for the couple because, well, they’re obviously trying to do right by each other. (But there’s that thread on goodreads discussing the ending, and self thinks if the ending is problematic, then she’ll feel really stupid for taking so long to get there)

In the meantime, HEY HO DIGRESSION! She’s watching Underworld and Kate Beckinsale has a sidekick who reminds her so much of Steven Strait in The Expanse iteration. But of course it’s not Steven Strait, it’s Theo James. Self really likes Kate Beckinsale as a vampire. The Underworld series was so under-rated.

Back to The Snakes and the potentially problematic ending (as well as self’s possible death from COVID, which could happen at any time, you never know). The ending can only be problematic if one of the main characters dies.

Does Bea die? No, she can’t die because hers is the only point of view. It would sort of be like the ending of Looking for Mr. Goodbar which was the WORST. Was that novel meant to be a cautionary tale about hooking up with complete strangers in bars? Or falling in love with a detective who looks like Mark Ruffalo? Do not bar hop, young people! And avoid Mark Ruffalo look-alikes. Oh wait, no one is bar hopping anymore. Because VIRUS!!!

Does Dan die? Possibly. He’s the husband and this early in the novel (p. 55) he’s already so stressed: “We’ve got less than three grand now.” He was upset and scared. “Altogether. In the world. That’s all we’ve got, Bea. When we get back to London, I need to find work. We can’t fall behind. We could lose the flat.”

Oh, Dan, don’t be such a worrywart. You’re the last person who self would choose to go on a grand adventure with. Haven’t you heard of declaring bankruptcy? All you have to do is fill out the paperwork.

She wonders if the difference is that the couple is English? So it’s harder to apply for bankruptcy in England?

But maybe Dan is too obvious a choice. Maybe he’s a RED HERRING.

Maybe it’s Alex, the brother, who dies. But self would be okay with that happening, since Alex is lazy and, not only that, he’s a recovering alcoholic, so maybe he falls off the wagon, becomes deeply depressed, and dies. He obviously doesn’t know how to run a hotel, so maybe he could have an accident. Like fall down a well. But it would not be a great loss if Alex died. So that would not be the problematic ending discussed on goodreads.

Got to keep reading.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

 

Novel As An Address to Self

“Black sheep of the family doesn’t begin to cover what I am . . . “

— Alex, brother of Bea, one of the main characters in The Snakes, who runs a terrible hotel in France

The Snakes, p. 38

This novel is hilarious!

My God, scrabbling noises overhead just as our young couple are about to kiss and make up after the dispiriting experience of arriving at a hotel owned by the wife’s brother which turns out to be decrepit, a shade above fixer-upper (Husband to wife referring to wife’s brother: “He’s a fucking mess.”)

The husband falls asleep despite the SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH from the ceiling (How could he??? Is this a clue that he’s not going to make it to the end? Mebbe he deserves it!) and the wife, very carefully, so as not to wake her sleeping other, goes to investigate.

Oh no, wait, she doesn’t go to investigate, she gets up merely to put her T-shirt on, and then she goes back to the bed and falls asleep, too.

It’s the next morning that’s important, because the wife wakes up “alone in the bed. She checked her phone. Ten-thirty.”

STAY TUNED!

 

The Snakes, p. 30

It is truly unbelievable, how self can focus on anything when so much is going on in the world. Nevertheless, here she is!

She’s still enjoying The Snakes, by Sadie Jones. We meet Alex, the wife’s brother, who owns a hotel. The couple decide to drop by for a visit.

Beyond the narrow terrace a stone path led down through tangled grass, studded with dandelions. At the bottom of the garden was the barn and log pile. The heavy buds of roses lolled over cracked flower beds.

“What do you think of my garden furniture? It was dead cheap,” said Alex.

Several tables and chairs were scattered about, they were brand new, with brash, brown matching sunbeds dotted chaotically between.

“Is he taking the piss?” whispered Dan.

Between the strange brother, the moody husband (Yes, the husband, Dan, is moody), and the decrepit hotel, the stage is set for . . .  well, who knows what the stage is set for. Goodreads reviewers have expressed disappointment at the ending, but self is determined to carry on!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Sadie Jones: The Snakes

This novel has a very engaging beginning. It was one of the last things self checked out of Redwood City Public Library, way back February (and she needs to return it soon, obv). Since Redwood City Library opened to curbside pick-up of books on hold, she got the notice that one of the books she requested, Maaza Mengiste’s The Shadow King, is ready for pick-up. YAY!

The Snakes is self’s first Sadie Jones.

One-sentence summary: Young husband and wife throw caution to the winds, quit their respective jobs (The wife loved her job, but the husband didn’t love his) and embark on a road trip.

Ch. 2 (p. 19)

The service station on the A26 from Calais was sunny and civilised. The day was mild. They sat outside and had a coffee, watching people playing on the manufactured grassy slopes. They’d bought a left-hand drive Peugeot in London, the week before they left. It had seventy thousand miles on the clock and a manual gearbox. Most of the car was blue but the bonnet, for no reason the seller would commit to, was matt black.

“It looks like shit,” Bea had whispered to Dan, out of earshot.

“It is shit, it’s nine-hundred quid.”

They’d left London the morning before their tenant, a PhD student from Korea, was due to move in.

821338.jpg

The author Sadie Jones

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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