L.B.: Unmotivated Close-up

Left Behind, pp. 68-71

Buck Williams' role as a journalist provides a useful device for long stretches of exposition without departing from the protagonist's point of view (one of many tropes borrowed from Sydney Watson's earlier rapture novels).

Jerry Jenkins' clumsy employment of this device often results in strange passages like this one, in which Buck reviews his notes from an interview with the Magical Jew, Chaim Rosenzweig, wherein the miracleworker discusses an obscure Romanian politician.

It's a bit odd for Buck to be reviewing this particular section of this particular interview just now. He just received an e-mail from his boss telling him he's in charge of investigating and reporting on the worldwide mass disappearances. You and I might consider that to be his most urgent priority. The disappearances, after all, are a top candidate for Biggest News Story of All Time.

But neither Buck nor his boss considers this the most important story. The editor is more worried about a pair of Jewish conferences gathering soon in New York City. (Jews in New York — now that's news.) Steve Plank is convinced those wily Jews are Up To Something and no story is more vital than prying into the secrets of their international conspiracies.

(Inexplicably, the planning of these conferences isn't even slightly delayed by the mass disappearances and the resulting shutdown of air travel. Even as our hero goes to great lengths and great expense to charter a private plane to NYC, everyone else — Jewish nationalists, Romanian diplomats, members of the Parliament of World Religions — seems able to continue their travel plans to that city without interruption or delay.)

Buck's own obsession is with the Romanian, mentioned briefly at the end of his boss's long rant about the Jews. This was the literary equivalent of Roger Ebert's "Unmotivated Close-up" rule, so Buck astutely realizes that any person thus singled out must be more significant than he at first seems.

Add to this that the man's name is Nicolae Carpathia. It's almost impossible to read that without hearing a swell of ominous organ music on the soundtrack. (Frau … Blucher!)

Nicolae Carpathia is, in fact, the Antichrist. This has been made explicitly obvious to the reader, but it's something that Buck could not yet have any way of knowing. Perhaps this shows his vaunted journalistic instincts at work. Others might see the vanishing of billions of people as the bigger story, but the rise of the Antichrist to worldwide dominion is just as newsworthy — and Buck is onto that story long before anyone else.

By fortuitous coincidence, Buck had already learned a great deal about Carpathia. It turns out that in his interview with Rosenzweig, the doctor had gone off on a tangent about one of his hobbies. When he's not busy inventing miracle formulas that make the deserts bloom, Rosenzweig apparently likes to study "the lower house of Romanian government." Who doesn't?

"Don't feel bad that you don't know" such things, Rosenzweig tells Buck:

"… even though you are an international journalist. This is something only Romanians and amateur political scientists like me know. That is something I like to study."

We'll get back to Carpathia and what Rosenzweig had to say about him soon, but I need to post this now so I can get back to one of my favorite hobbies. I like to read up on Estonian appellate courts.

  • Chadd

    Another? Already? Yessss

  • Riggsveda

    The Toccata and Fugue bit is irresistable!

  • homunculus

    Yes, it’s just so appropriately tinny.

  • Scott

    I’m naming my first kid “Nicolae Carpathia”.

  • Peatey

    There was a kid named Nick Carpathian in my high school, I swear.
    I’m surprised L.B. doesn’t spell “Rumanian.”

  • twig

    The only thing I like about the LB books, well, other than your entertaining reviews, is Nicolae Carpathia’s name.
    I think they botch this one just like the others by giving him a godawful middle name. I may be wrong, though.

  • Lookit The Happy Monkey

    Nicholae Irving Carpathia.
    ::snort::

  • Miss Authoritiva

    Is Nicolae Carpathia really Roman Castevet, who was really Steven Marcato? And how could he be the Antichrist? I thought by papal decree that Martin Luther was the Antichrist? Or has the papal decree statute of limitations expired?

  • The Scornful Roman

    Can someone please tell me if ‘Carpathia’ is even a real Romanian surname?
    And actually, Nicolae is of pure Italian descent… so… he’s a Roman, to jump-start the revived Roman Empire.

  • Scott

    Nicholae Irving Carpathia
    Nicholae “White Shoes” Carpathia

  • sophia8

    Carpathia is a region of Eastern Europe – it covers the corner where Ukraine, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania all meet. The name probably comes from that of the Karpa tribe who lived there in Roman times.
    The RMS Carpathia was one of the ships that came to the rescue of the Titanic.
    The USS Carpathia is a ship on Star Trek.
    There are several towns called Carpathia.
    But it does not appear to be anyone’s surname.
    And seriously – “Irving”? Why would Eastern European parents give their child a Scottish/American middle name?

  • The Scornful Roman

    Thanks, sophia8. Mr. Antichrist’s real middle name is Jetty.
    So– Nicolae Jetty Carpathia.

  • Scott

    Nicholae “Boom Boom” Carpathia

  • bellatrys

    I would expect if someone’s name were supposed to indicate that their family was *from* Carpathia, it would go something like “Carpatiscue” or “Karpatischer” or something like that, anyway.

  • Peter

    >And seriously – “Irving”? Why would Eastern European parents give their child a Scottish/American middle name?
    When I worked in Florida, I worked with a Russian woman named “Nelly.” Many immigrants pick up a new name because no one here can pronounce their given name (another co worker was called “Sam” because no one could pronounce “Guthurusamy…” [rest of name forgotten, sorry Sam]. When I pestered her for her real name (the Russian language could use about 100% more vowels to make it pronouncable), it turned out to really really be Nelly, as her parents thought that was a cool, exotic sounding name. After the Soviet Onion collapsed, she moved to the US, only to discover that Nelly is considered an “Old maid’s name.” So, what was cool and exotic in one place, can easily turn into mockery. Like bell-bottom jeans.

  • burritoboy

    Carpathia is clearly an attempt to tap into the Count Dracula mythos. Most vampire movies begin with a mention that Castle Dracul is in the Carpathian mountains.
    Yes, I do think LaHaye’s mind is literally working on that level. The Left Behind series utilizes a lot of other grade-Z pop cultural material too. (L. Ron Hubbard was full of this type of poorly done borrowing too). Too bad it’s nowhere near as fun as the originals.

  • Thlayli

    When I pestered her for her real name … it turned out to really really be Nelly, as her parents thought that was a cool, exotic sounding name.
    Kinda like when Olympic swimmer Kornelia Ender decided to name her daughter “Tiffany”, and it turned out that no child in the history of East Germany had ever been given that name.

  • http://www.bookcase.com/~claudia/mt/archives/000530.html Halfway down the Danube

    A man of wealth and taste

    Romania sure gets a bad press in American popular fiction. Vampires, orphans, war crimes, vampires. The horror writer Dan Simmons once managed to work all three together in one of his books, with added vampire content (this is not…

  • http://www.bookcase.com/~claudia/mt/archives/000530.html Halfway down the Danube

    A man of wealth and taste

    Romania sure gets a bad press in American popular fiction. Vampires, orphans, war crimes, vampires. The horror writer Dan Simmons once managed to work all three together in one of his books, with added vampire content (this is not…

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1149750585 Monica Swanson

    In any other book, I would assume from the (obvious, cliched) name that Nicolae Carpathia is a vampire. I suppose it’s a somewhat-believable (but still obvious and cliched) name for the Antichrist as well.


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