Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Wolf Gift--chapter 31

So it's been high ninties all week, like 96 F with 40% humidity, which is basically "Look ma, the rocks are melting" kind of hot. I have not mentioned this because of Reasons, but I do not own a car. I own a bike. I like having my bike. I hate cars. Every time I get behind the wheel of a car the tension is Not Fun and Not Pretty.

Biking in 96 F weather is enough to kill squirrels. I always reassess my priorities every year. (...also, I can't afford a goddamned car. The CAR itself? Sure. Gas, insurance and the biannual "What the fuck is that noise?" emergency? Fuck that shit. I break a bike chain, it's twenty bucks at wal-mart. I break a fan belt, it's Ramen Noodles forever.)

So how's Ruben today?

Well, we find out that Ruben saved a gay kid from being murdered the night before. Okay, that's grea--

THE STORY EXPLODED on the morning news, not because the Man Wolf had had the temerity to go to the northern city of Santa Rosa and shred four vicious killers, but because the surviving victim was already famous.
...I want one normal character in this book. Just one. And I don't mean normal as in "straight white" because that's not normal, that's descriptive laziness. I mean normal as in "I don't have my name anywhere other than my friends-only facebook account" and "Can I borrow twenty bucks for lunch? I had to pay my phone bill and I'm broke until Friday" kind of normal. Somebody who has a day job that wouldn't let them just drop off the face of the fucking earth just because they don't feel like working today. Seriously. I like the little gay kid. BUT WHY DOES THE LITTLE GAY KID HAVE TO BE MORE FAMOUS THAN ELVIS?

So the kid's name is Stuart McIntyre, and he became famous for insisting that his Catholic school let him take a boy to prom. Good for Stuart. His school punished him by taking away his valedictorian status. So not only is he famous, he's also the smartest person in school.

...could we maybe be reading that story? The one about a normal (ish. I mean he's like perfectly brilliant and acclaimed and famous already) kid fighting overwhelming obstacles to get equal treatment? High stakes? Unlikely chance of success? Emotional turmoil? That'd be much more interesting than The Adventures of Pube Wolf the Rich Man.

The book goes on to state that Stuart is very active in trying for gay rights...but--

But his greatest claim to fame before the prom crisis had been his success as a high school actor, persuading Blessed Sacrament to put on a full-scale production of Cyrano de Bergerac, just so that he could ably play the lead in it, which he had, to good reviews.
Yeah. Starring in a school play>gay rights.

It's also irritating that Stuart's life history is not there because it is interesting. It is not there because it makes him a better character than Ruben (...even though it does, which is how you know Rice didn't intend it that way) It is there because it makes him a saint, thus making his receiving the Wolf Gift a good thing, thus making Ruben being an idiot less of a disaster. So we've taken a hot button issue--Gay Rights and religion--and used it to justify the bone-numbingly stupid decisions of a character whose ethnic difficulty setting is "Baby's first video game" easy.

(For the record, whatever I believed when I was a teen aside, I do believe that you can be Gay and be a Christian, that you have every right to believe what you want and do what you want, and to have a relationship with  whatever Deity you feel wants you reguardless of what society says you can and can't do. Also, C.S. Lewis said, and I agree with him, that homosexuality was not something he could pass judgement on because he never had to deal with that particular issue. Far as I know, I'm straight. That makes it none of my fucking business.)  

Any credit Anne Rice might have bought with me for including this issue dies a horrible fucking death when she talks about Stuart's murdered boyfriend as the "boyfriend", with quotation marks. As if it's not the real thing.

Rice, the kid lost status at his school for the right to take this other kid to prom. At least give that the dignity of using Boyfriend without the quotes.

Also, the murdered kid was Antonio Lopez. This is our second Person of Color in the entire novel, and he's dead long, long before he is granted an identity, let alone an ethnicity. And he was probably murdered by Stuart's own stepfather and several of his own brothers-in-law, who Stuart identified when he was brought to the hospital.

Well, at least the fail so far has been very minor. Ri---

Oh you've got to be kidding me.

There was more. Stuart’s mother, a bottle-blond named Buffy Longstreet, had been a teen actress in a short-lived sitcom for a few years...

It is amazing how six words can imply so many, many, many negative things about a woman and her character. It is important that we know she dye her hair, folks. To contrast it with Laura, whose prematurely white hair is au naturale, I guess?

 So it turns out that Stuart's dad made lots of money from the dot-com bubble--if there is one modern trope I wish would go die in a fire it is the "made lots of money in the dot-com bubble" bullshit, because a lot of people, you know, didn't--and that means Stuart would inherit a lot of money, and that Stuart's stepdad would get all that money if Stuart died. Hence, a money motivated gay bashing.

Again: That story is much, much, much more interesting than that of Ruben the Pube Wolf.

So after having Stuart's life story dumped in our lap (It's the better story, folks) we go back to a summery of Ruben getting interviewed by the cops, who are condemned for wanting to get the Man Wolf off the streets before he kills somebody innocent.

Because, you know, the fact that he is killing human beings doesn't count because those humans are nasty. He'd never kill the nice people.

The personality type willing to go after and severely damage a person will get progressively worse. They will start with "justifiable" victims--ie, the serial killer targeting prostitutes, which is NOT justifiable, but we're dealing with a murderer's logic here--lose interest, and move on to less justifiable, more risky victims. Police understand this. Police investigating serial muder also do NOT rank victims by "asking for it" or "not asking for it", or "guilty" or "innocent". They rank victims by "people", which means a pedophile who eats children is just as valid a victim of murder as a child. Because the circumstances of the victim has nothing to do with the circumstances of the crime committed against them.

So then Stuart calls Ruben and tells him to come for a visit. Ruben agrees. He calls his mom first and tells her to go help Stuart just in case he got bit. Grace says nobody said anything about the kid getting bit, and that's probably because the cops are sitting on that piece of info just in case the Man-Wolf fucks up and starts talking to people about the kid he bit. Which Ruben just did.

IRL Ruben's ass would be in jail right now.

Ruben goes to the hospital. The negging of Stuart's mom continues when the fact that she's had plastic surgery is brought up. Personality? Oh, we don't need that. We just need to know that she's cute, she dyes her hair, and she had a nose job.

Stuart gives Ruben his pet theories about the Man-Wolf. Guys, this is creepy. This is "Rapist visiting his victims" level creepy.

His mom tells him to stop talking about it, then stalks out of the room...and then Stuart tells Ruben that she blames Stuart for the stepdad beating her and slashing all his clothes.

Yeah, because Mom circling the wagons to protect her kid is, you know, a positive characterization of a female unattached to Ruben's penis and GOD KNOWS we can't have that.

And then Stuart begins crying because he knows the police will kill the Man-Wolf like an animal--the words "Clubbed like a baby seal" are mentioned--and he doesn't want that.

Ruben leaves Stuart alone with his mother, who continues to be a negative steriotype, and gives the doctor in charge of the case Grace's card. And then he calls his mom and tells her, AGAIN, to help Stuart. We also find out that it's been a grand total of twenty-eight days since Ruben got bit.

It feels like four months.

Ruben goes home. We get another two-page-long description of Laura making a salad.

Ruben googles Felix's name for a while. He turns on the TV and discovers that Stuart's stepdad has been released from jail, and that his Mom firmly believes that Stepdad is innocent. This, and all the other insanely cartoonish aspects of Stuart's story, is probably true to life.

Yeah, my reality accurately matches the character behavior in an Anne Rice novel. I think it's time we traded it in for a new one.

Ruben and Laura go to bed. They watch Beauty and the Beast in french, have sex together, and the chapter ends.

There is. No point. Whatsoever. to this book. And nothing at all to laugh at in this chapter. I'd like for it to go die.


  1. Is Anne rice trying to win a bet with someone? "I can write a more banal book than you and get it published!" "Yeah?" "Yeah!" "You're on!"

  2. Buffy gets portrayed about as you would expect from those six words, alas. Surprises, Anne Rice gives us none!

    The handling of Stuart pretty much makes me cringe.

    1. My favorite name for a female character is Jane. I haven't found a story where Jane would fit, but there's something very, very nice about being a Jane.

      I've had to deal with ugly females before--that's internal ugliness, not outward--and they usually have good, workable names like Carol or Linda, and present very well on first impression.

      Stuart needs a better book.