Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Danse Macabre--chapter 17

And so we continue with "How LKH thinks people deal with a crisis."

It's painful.

That said, it's a plot thread that, while tangentally related to sex, is not founded on sex, solved by sex, or complicated by sex (other than the sex that has already happened). So while it's a really thin thread, it's basically a big improvement over the sex of the preceeding chapters.


Richard starts the chapter off by asking Anita how she can love Nathanial. Nate's choice in careers aside, he's a manipulative, passive-aggressive, emotionally abusive prick with the empathy of a turnip, so that's a pretty valid question. Anita is, of course, the steller person of unempeachable character we all know her to be.

I turned to look at him. He stood, shoulders hunched, rubbing his hands up and down his arms, as if he were cold. But I knew he wasn’t cold, or at least not the kind of cold that blankets and skin warmth could fix. It was a coldness of the heart, or the soul, or the mind. That cold that eats a hole through the middle of who you are, and leaves something dark and awful behind.
On the one hand, this is a psychologically accurate reaction. Many women trapped in abusive relationships assume that other people just don't understand, when in reality the other person understands damn well how the relationship is working, and just can't comprehend why their loved one is still in the relationship. On the other hand: Fuck you Anita. YOU RAPED THIS MAN. You continually ignore his boundaries re: sex and sexual contact, and you repeatedly tell him to suck up and deal when he has crippling emotional crisises that you started in the first place. You want us to see Richard as a judgemental asshole, but he mostly comes off as a very confused victim of many many many people, INCLUDING you, INCLUDING Jean Claude, and also including Rania and Marcus, who has finally gotten something approaching control in his life and is now trying to work through his issues with no help from you whatsofuckingever. His PTSD probably has PTSD is what I'm saying here. If his heart was cold, Anita, he wouldn't be there.

 However, anything remotely resembling character development is about to be hijacked by "How LKH Thinks Judgemental Christian-ish Nasty Straight People Handle A Horrible Crisis."

Anita tells Richard to suck it up, Nate's willing to uproot his entire life to take care of the hypothetical baby.

Richard offers to marry Anita.

Anita laughs in his face, which is the first rational reaction I've seen her make in three books. She says that the problem isn't marrige, the problem is that they've made a person and now have to take care of it. Richard insists that marrying will fix everything.

I'm starting to get plot whiplash again.

The arguement bounces back and forth, and finally Anita says that she has no intention of marrying anyone and Richard is all "DON'T YOU WANT A FATHER FOR YOUR BAYYYYBEEE". 

This is the point where I cringe. On the one hand, I don't buy the whole "man and a woman" thing. On the other hand (I think I'm a fucking octopus by now) the role models raising the child need to be the same role models. The worst thing you can do to a child, especially during the first three years of their life, is trade parent figures out like they're light bulbs. So Richard's got something of a point there, too. Whoever and whatever takes care of the kid needs to keep taking care of the kid. Consistancy is the single most important thing you can do for a child. 

Claudia interrupts and tells Richard he's making Anita feel worse, because he's trying to trap her into a normal life.

Richard, naturally, makes my own point for me.

“No,” he said, and he meant it. He turned back to me. “You said it yourself, Anita, whatever’s best for this little person. Do you really think being a federal marshal, and dealing with all kinds of violent crime and monsters, is the kind of life that a baby needs?” 
 If Anita had ever made any kind of effort to keep her home safe, I'd say that Richard was full of shit. But she never has. She doesn't give one flying fuck about staying secure, and there's at least one killer vampire on the rampage with an axe to grind against her.

“Jesus, Richard,” I said, “you’re still trying to take away my life. To take away what makes me who I am. You love me, but not who I am. You love who you want me to be.”
Alright, good point on the "you love who you want me to be". I'd give a better point if who Richard wanted Anita to be wasn't healthy. She doesn't have good relationships. Everyone she's got in her life is using her for something. Micah gets power through her. JC gets power through her. Nate gets something. And she's using back just as hard. It's like an addict's family trying to get them to sober up. Should she give up police work? No. Should she give up the confrontational runaway train "I can do it all because I'm just that good" attitude that keeps getting her in trouble? Probably so.

And I have to ask, what the fuck did a white picket fence ever do to Laurel K. Hamilton for it to be the be-all end-all symbol of evil?

Samuel gives a speech about how having children made Thea even more ruthless because we had the momma-bear thing, and all Anita focuses on is how breast feeding is totally not her thing.

So...those EEE breasts are fake, then, right?

Anita decides to change the topic. She and Richard fight over whose right it is to change the topic.

I'd say they're both six, but I've met six-year-olds with more maturity. RECENTLY.

They switch over to talking about Anita's hunt for a new blood apple, and how they should introduce a new vampire to the mix early so that they can see how haywire her powers are currently. For some reason this planning session requries copious kissing of Anita's ass.

They make the Cinderella comparison again, and Anita reminds them all that she's the prince, again, and I'm kind of getting sick of this plot point already. Let's go back to fighting over a pregnancy.

Claudia herds Anita into the bathroom so she can take the pregnancy test. End of chapter.


  1. Even though I can't fucking stand him for the most part, Nathaniel is one of the few awful people in these books whose awfulness is both understandable and interesting to me, given his background---he's been exploited, abused, and pimped-out since childhood. And he's exactly like you would expect him to be for it. Except...LKH doesn't seem to realize that he is this way, that he is all those things you said he is. And that he really just keeps getting worse. Instead, we're supposed to believe that his being with Anita has improved his mental health and general personhood and, no, he's just still having her along, still working solely in a mindset of how to exploit the desires of others for his own survival and nothing more.

    ...yet another case of LKH completely missing a great opportunity for character exploration and growth.

    1. I think I've said this nine million times, but it's worth saying again. My issue with this series is NOT all the situations and circumstances, the sex (save for it getting in the way of a plot) the characters, the abuse, the violence. It's that these things are being portrayed as healthy and okay, and that the Author firmly believes that this is the way things ought to be. That a poly relationship should be between manipulative people, that consent is optional, that being manipulated into sex is just fine and dandy, that politics ought to be run like a pissing contest, that proving your worth as a woman is not only necessary but that it has to be a continual dick measuring contest...

      I don't have a problem with Nate being a manipulative dick. I have a problem with the book swearing up and down that he ISN'T that way, that he's a healthier option than Richard (who has his own issues, but for fuck's sake, at least Richard KNOWS that he HAS issues) and that he's this paragon of perfection and virtue...and I also don't like how the book insists that "paragon of perfection and virtue" is a valid state of existance. People are flawed and fucked up and make mistakes. It's part of who we are. That any series could simultaneously present such a flawed cast and then hold them up as an ideal for humanity and DEMAND that humanity prove its value by becoming that fucked up is just bleeding fucking WRONG.

    2. Yup, pretty much all this. It still both baffles and enrages me how LKH thinks our issues with her work is just that we're prudes.

  2. I kinda hate the mamma bear trope because it's so often presented as the only time a woman is allowed to be outwardly fierce. I know several mamma bear types, mind, but the way it's used in fiction often makes me cringe.

    1. Having children can have a profound effect on people, but having a kid isn't going to completely change somebody 100%. Momma bear makes no sense if momma wasn't a bear first.

      Anita would not be a good mom ATM because she's consistantly incapable of making an unselfish choice. She's already a momma bear because the only time she goes ape-shit lately is when "her people" are threatened. But she's a momma bear who would go back to the nest and eat her own young because she's not in the mood to go down to the stream for salmon. Kinda sorta the way Thea contemplates RAPING HER OWN CHILDREN.

      (And I agree. The only Momma bear I ever bought was Ellen Ripley and that's because she was an established BAMF long before they threw in the kid)