NRA: Pilot on the River Kwai

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 69-71

The task of a double-agent is to appear completely loyal while being actively disloyal.

So, for example, if you were ever to find yourself posing as an accomplice of a mass-murdering embodiment of evil while secretly working for the forces of good, you would want to do everything you could to reassure your psychopath boss that you supported him while doing everything possible to disrupt, delay, expose, undermine, sabotage, subvert or otherwise foil his plans. That’s the job.

Rayford Steele gets this exactly backwards.

“What have I done?” asked someone other than Rayford Steele.

Rayford is serving as the personal pilot of the Antichrist. Nicolae Carpathia needs a good pilot to carry out his murderous schemes, and Rayford has proven to be just the guy for the job. We readers know that in his heart,* Rayford despises Nicolae and everything he stands for, yet day after day, he assists the Antichrist by dutifully fulfilling every task he is called on to perform.

Rayford does not seem to enjoy doing this, but his lack of enthusiasm has not affected his performance in any way. When it comes to providing everything Nicolae needs from his personal pilot, Rayford has done exactly what any fully devoted servant of the Antichrist would have done.

That was bad enough earlier in the story, when Nicolae’s agenda consisted mainly of weirdly arbitrary steps, like building a global capital in the Iraqi desert or unifying the world’s currency. But at this point in the story, the evil mastermind has finally gotten around to acting like an evil mastermind — nuking dozens of cities and slaughtering millions of people.

Rayford hasn’t done a single thing to try to stop him. Worse than that, Rayford has assisted and enabled this slaughter.

The authors do not seem to think that this makes Rayford culpable for the mass-death they’re now describing, but I don’t see any way to avoid that conclusion. Nicolae is killing people. Rayford is helping him.

This isn’t one of those spy-thriller scenarios in which the hero has to participate in some small degree of evil in order to protect his cover so that he will later be able to prevent something even worse. Rayford isn’t participating in Nicolae’s plans in order to protect his cover — he’s just blindly carrying out every order he is given. In any case, considering the mass-murder that Nicolae is carrying out at this moment in the story, it’s hard to imagine a more urgent time for Rayford to intervene.

Rayford reminds me a bit of Alec Guinness’ character in The Bridge on the River Kwai. Col. Nicholson is the commander of British forces in a World War II Japanese POW camp. When the prisoners are ordered to build a bridge for the Japanese military, Nicholson goes mad and sets about to build the greatest bridge they have ever seen.

Yet both Rayford and the authors seem to imagine that he’s William Holden, the counterpoint to Guinness’ character who parachutes in to dynamite the enemy’s beautiful new bridge. They inexplicably think that Rayford’s loyal service is somehow heroic. In their eyes, he’s a courageous “Tribulation Force” soldier infiltrating the inner-circle of the Antichrist.

They seem to have forgotten that infiltrating the super-villain’s lair is only the first step. The hero also has to do something once he gets there — something other than faithfully serve the super-villain as an efficient and effective assistant.

Chapter 4 of Nicolae begins with a half-page vignette in which Nicolae prepares to broadcast to the world he’s busily bombing into oblivion.

At the sound of a knock on the cockpit door, Rayford shut off the hidden button and turned expectantly. It was a Carpathia aide. …

Odd. The last chapter made it very clear that there were only nine people on this plane: Rayford, Amanda, the copilot, Nicolae, Fortunato, and four “ambassadors.” Now suddenly Nicolae has a whole staff of people on board with him.

… It was a Carpathia aide. “Do whatever you have to do to shut down all interference and patch us back through to Dallas. We go live on satellite in about three minutes, and the potentate should be able to be heard everywhere in the world.”

Yippee, Rayford thought.

Again, Rayford is supposed to be a double-agent. The task of a double-agent is to appear completely loyal while being actively disloyal. But here, and throughout these books, Rayford is completely loyal while appearing disloyal.

Rayford mutters and grumbles. He’s rude and sarcastic. But he always comes through when Nicolae needs him.

“Shut down all interference and patch us back through to Dallas,” the aide says. And Rayford shuts down all interference and patches them back through to Dallas. It does not matter to Nicolae that he does so while muttering sarcastically to himself. Nor does it matter to the millions of people that Nicolae is killing. Rayford’s muttering does not make them any less dead.

In a better novel, I would worry that Rayford’s abrasiveness and open dislike for his boss would risk blowing his cover as a Tribulation Force secret agent. But that hardly matters here, since without any subversive mission or agenda, he’s not really much of a secret agent. Plus it seems implausible at this point that he still has a cover to be blown. Rayford doesn’t bother to hide his contempt for Nicolae, and the Antichrist already knows that Rayford is a Christian convert. I imagine Nicolae knows all about the Tribulation Force and just doesn’t care.

If anything, the Antichrist is probably disappointed that the Tribulation Force isn’t larger. They supply some of his most loyal and capable employees.

The “Yippee” bit, I’m guessing, is meant to make Rayford look “cool.” It echoes the earlier scene in which Rayford wises off to the soldier on the highway, or that wretched business with Buck making faces behind Verna Zee’s back when she was his boss.

I think Jerry Jenkins watched a lot of 1980s comedies — stuff with Bill Murray or Chevy Chase — and latched onto a glimmer of an idea that sarcastic insubordination is the key to making your hero funny and likable. Alas, Jenkins hasn’t quite grasped why such rebellious characters are funny. (Hint: They’re rebellious because they actually rebel.) And he proves utterly unable to imitate the thing he’s trying to mimic here.

The problem isn’t just that Rayford’s smirking commentary lacks any wit or originality. The bigger problem is that cracking wise may be appropriate when, say, the boss orders everyone to work through lunch, but it seems monstrously inadequate as the only expression of rebellion when the boss is ordering you to participate in the killing of millions of people.

Look back at, say, Stripes, Fletch and Caddyshack, and you’ll notice that one common thread running through all those movies is that they never ask us to like a character who is willingly complicit in genocide.

Meanwhile, Buck and Verna Zee are rather nonchalantly reacting to the destruction of Chicago.

Buck was on the phone with Loretta when Verna Zee slipped behind the wheel. She slung her oversized bag onto the seat behind her, then had trouble fastening her seat belt, she was shaking so. Buck shut off the phone. “Verna, are you all right? I just talked with a woman from our church who has a room and private bath for you.”

I’m not sure how to respond to this little section. On the one hand, Buck’s behavior to Verna in this scene is uncharacteristically decent. Just consider that sentence: “Buck shut off the phone.” That’s the most selfless act we’ve ever seen from him.

It is good of Buck, here, to overcome his instinctive misogyny and dislike for Verna and to begin treating her like a fellow human being, a refugee who just lost her home in the war. He goes out of his way here to be nice to her — literally going out of his way, as he arranges for her to stay at Loretta’s, then rides there with her instead of heading off directly to try to find his wife who, you’ll recall, may be dead for all he knows.

I want to enjoy Buck’s surprising kindness, but his lack of urgency following Chloe’s crash — “… he heard an explosion, tires squealing, a scream, and silence” — makes this scene frustrating. This leisurely reaction to the “huge aerial attack on the city of Chicago” seems to be shared by the rest of the Global Weekly staff:

A mini traffic jam dissipated as Verna and Buck’s coworkers wended their way out of the small parking lot.

Wending does not seem like an appropriate response to the sudden arrival of World War III. People should be rushing off to rescue loved ones, to collect supplies, to fill bath tubs, to “flee to the mountains” without turning back to get a coat.

Buck and Verna exchange apologies as they wend their way toward Loretta’s house in Mount Prospect. Eventually, to pass the time on their commute, Buck mentions something about Chloe perhaps lying bleeding on some highway.

Buck told her of his urgency to locate a vehicle and try to find Chloe.

“Cameron! You must be frantic!”

“Frankly, I am.”

She tells him to take her car, and then, to convey just how frankly frantic he is, Buck says:

“I’ll let you lend me your car, but let’s get you settled first.”

“You may not have a minute to spare.”

“All I can do is trust God at this point,” Buck said.

Jenkins doesn’t mention it, but I imagine Buck has been silently praying for Chloe all this time. “Lord, I’ll let you save Chloe. I’ll deign to allow you to do that for me, God …”

Having learned of Chloe’s plight, Verna shows more urgency in this scene than Buck:

She sped to the edge of Mt. Prospect and slid up to the curb in front of Loretta’s beautiful, rambling, old home. Verna did not allow Buck to even take the time to make introductions. She said, “We all know who each other is, so let’s let Cameron get going.”

She tells Buck to keep her phone as long as he needs it, and Buck takes the wheel all set to race off to rescue his wife:

Buck pushed the driver’s seat all the way back and adjusted the mirror.

Well, OK, safety first. You don’t want to race off on your high-speed rescue mission with the mirrors improperly adjusted. But now he’s all set to race off to find Chloe:

He punched in the number he’s been given for Nicolae Carpathia and tried to return that call. …

He doesn’t get through to Nicolae, but rest assured, as soon as he finishes that phone call, he does, eventually, race off “toward the only route he could imagine Chloe taking to escape Chicago.”

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* “The Lord seeth not as man seeth,” 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

For many evangelicals, that verse has gotten mingled with the Protestant doctrine of salvation by faith and not by works to produce the notion that what we do is always less important than what’s “in our heart.” Actions don’t matter. Consequences matter even less. The crucial concern is always intent — having a “good heart.”

I’d guess that this is part of what Rayford’s sarcastic “Yippee” remark is meant to show us. Sure, he may be serving the Antichrist and co-operating in Nicolae’s mass-murder, but in his heart he opposes all of it.

I wrote about this sentimental “good heart” idea a long way back, when then-President Bush was praising Vladimir Putin’s “good heart”:

This approach also explains why evangelicals — including George W. Bush — can get so angry and aggressively personal in any political or ethical dispute. If you believe that the only (or at least the primary) reason you hold political opinion X is because you love Jesus, then you will also come to believe that anyone holding opinion Not-X must therefore not love Jesus. Thus evangelicals who disagree will quickly move to accusing one another of not loving Jesus, which — for an evangelical — is about the worst thing anybody can accuse you of (except, of course, for homosexuality or voting for Clinton).

This is what prompts President Bush’s angry indignation when any initiative or position of his administration is questioned. He interprets all such questions as challenges to the Goodness of his Heart. Thus his response is usually to angrily reassert that he has a Good Heart, without ever responding to — or hearing and considering — the substance of the critique.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I’ve been trying to think of the number of people I’ve actually known in my life who were 6’4 or over. I’m from Michigan. When I moved to New York City, everyone looked short. Then I moved to Florida, and people continue to look short. 

    So what I’m saying is, I lived the first 25 years of my life around tall people. Maybe it’s the Germanic-Scandanavian ancestry, maybe it’s the large amounts of dairy and exercise, I dunno. But anyway, I can only think of two people I’ve ever known who were that tall. 

    Is Tim LaHaye particularly tall? I can forgive this quirk of his more readily if it’s a self-insert thing than if it’s about how manly men should all be incredibly tall.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    a special commendation for realizing that the supply chain was so slow

    Meanwhile another infiltration squad is doing their part for the resistance by slowing down the supply chain :)

  • Isabeldepaul

    Rayford is evil. Everything before this was just him being an asshole and a non-hero, but here he has officially become a villain. I honestly find myself comparing him to Nyder from Genesis of the Daleks. 

  • Joshua

    I lived the first 25 years of my life around tall people. Maybe it’s the Germanic-Scandanavian ancestry

    Could be that. One of the first things I did when I went to Germany was buy a leather jacket – it being winter, and a winter that New Zealand clothes shops just don’t cater for. I was surprised how easy it was to find one to fit me. I usually can never get long enough arms. Northern Europeans are just tall, on average.

    In New Zealand, I have been into shoe shops and told that they do not have a single pair of any sort in my size. Even when they do, my choice tends to be limited. Currently, my two pairs of work shoes are both steel-capped boots. I work as a computer programmer in an office.

    I knew a guy who was 6’6 once.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    I knew a guy who was 6’6["] once.

    Oh?  What happened to him?

  • Deni zen

     Don’t read the Christ Clone series. It’s far better written than Left Behind, so it’s leaps in logic are even more apparent. The tribulation that the Christian God enacts is so horrifically sadistic that it will give you nightmares, and in the end the characters are supposed to love this God without any reason, and anyone who is rebellion against this God is a “whore”. I guess the author forgot that people who were parents that lost children to the tribulation and would be understanably enraged. No, they’re just whores. The Anti-christ is basically just doing it for the evils, and stands to gain nothing. The root cause of inflicting massive amounts of death and destruction on the whole world? The New Age moment. Apparently God thought looking at horoscopes and respecting nature are crimes worth devastating continents over. At no point in the series does God do anything good, he just inflicts needless horrors and death on the world, while the Antichrist spends the entire series uniting the world and healing people and then does a little bit of genocide at the very, very end. It’s a very confused novel series.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The first two books really make you wonder if the alternate interpretation created by Beauseigneur could possibly be right, then the third yanks you safely back to orthodox Christian Revelation interpretation.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    LaHaye doesn’t look particularly tall to me.  Jenkins looks like he might be quite tall.

    http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/babylon-rising-chapter-1-part-1/

    ALL of his “heroes” are tall.  Ray-Gun is 6’4″.  Michael Murphy of the Babylon Rising series is 6’3″.  So is Paul Stepola of the Underground Zealot series.  I don’t remember how tall Joshua Jordan is, but I’m sure Invisible Neutrino could tell you, and I’m sure it’s damn tall. 

    I figure he just thinks that it would be impossible for readers to see “manly” if the hero was 5’8″ or something.  The same way a hero could never be bald or fat or bespectacled.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Eheheh. My first thought in connection with ‘six-foot-four man’ is the only guy I’ve ever met who’s that tall; he is not, or he was not when I knew him, what one might call an exemplar of the kyriarchal definition of masculinity. By which I mean, the two-word description of him is ‘teddy bear’. (The third word would be ‘geeky’, the fourth ‘fuckwit’, and any further words would describe the political positions he holds that explain why we broke up in the early stages of Obama v Clinton v McCain.)

    Also LaHaye has clearly never read Harry Potter.

  • depizan

    ALL of his “heroes” are tall.

    While I’ve run across plenty of authors who have “types” of heroes, I honestly can’t think of any others who insist on not just tall, but quite tall heroes.  If they were all 6′, it would probably pass without notice, but the further over 6′ they are, the more the audience’s eyebrows go up.  Especially when they aren’t written as tall.

    I mean, I do actually know several guys over 6′ (none of whom would be acceptable LaHaeroes due to being atheists, or fat, or wearing glasses, or several of the above), but that doesn’t make it any more common in the general population.  And once you hit 6’2-6’3 or so, you start having trouble finding clothing, and sometimes run into other difficulties depending on your body proportions.*  Ray and Buck never – at least in what’s excerpted – seem to have any issues. They’re just randomly TALL.

    *Which is another thing that doesn’t seem to have been considered.  People aren’t all proportioned the same.  My parents only have to adjust their car seats by one click, despite one being 5’5 and the other 5’11.  Similarly, I once rode a rollercoaster with those solid over the shoulder restraint thingies – which, when clicked into place, actually touched my shoulders, while the guy I was riding with had an inch or so of space.  Even though I’m 5’5 and he’s 6′ and it was the same restraint fitting over both of us.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    It amuses me to imagine a version of the New Testament in which Jesus never does any preaching or miracles, he just goes around sarcastically rolling his eyes at the Romans until he dies of old age.

    Why do you think the Gospels skip over his teenage years?

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Also LaHaye has clearly never read Harry Potter.

    Or the Lord of the Rings books.

    (Actually, even if he read any of HP or LotR, he would probably just figure they were of Satan.)

  • Daughter

     I’m surrounded by tall people. My dad and his brother were both 6′. They each have one son, both of whom are 6’2″. My husband’s dad was 6’3″, his brothers are 6’3″ and 6’5″, and hubby is 6’6″. One of his cousins is 6’10″. Several women in both our families are between 5’11″ and 6’1″.

    I’m 5’7″. I’m pretty sure my daughter, 4’5″ at age 7, will hit 6 feet.

    But regarding L&J, their tall heroes are probably the least of their writing flaws. Tall (6′+) heroes are a common trope in everything from romance novels to spy thrillers.

  • P J Evans

     There may be some variations because of personal definitions of ‘tall’. Mine is anyone over about 5 ft 8 – but that’s because my father’s family is generally less than that. My mothers family runs to 6-foot men, but not that much over.

    People as tall as LaHaeroes tend to spend a lot of time ducking solid objects, or being asked to retrieve stuff from the top shelves in cupboards.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    The tall heroes seem to fit into the “tall and lean” or “tall and athleticly muscular” categories, too. I know many tall men, and a sizeable fraction are of the “built like a brick shithouse” variety, which you don’t see much in literature.

  • aunursa

    With all of this discussion of how tall Rayford and Buck are, I was just curious where in Left Behind their heights are mentioned. The character listing section of the Left Behind Authorized Handbook is posted on the official LB site.  The heights and weights of some of the characters are described…

    Rayford is 6’4″. 
    Buck is “several inches shorter than Ken Ritz, a foot taller than Chaim.”
    Ken Ritz is “tall, lean.”
    Chaim’s height is not indicated.
    Chloe is 5’7″, 125 lbs. 
    Hattie’s height is not indicated.
    Nicolae is “an inch or two over 6 feet”* and “trim, athletic.”
    Bruce Barnes is “short and slightly overweight.”
    Leon Fortunato is “short and stocky.”

    * Not specified in the Handbook, but indicated in Book #1.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Hattie’s height is not indicated that I remember, but she weighs 115 pounds:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2004/07/28/lb-thank-heaven-for-little-girls/

    So LaJenkins clearly prefer their women very slim.*

    (When I was 18, I shared Chloe’s stats.  And my doctor told my that was more than a little underweight.)

    *Jenkins always notes when women are chubby.  An interesting trend for a man who has been quite public about his own struggle with his weight.

  • LoneWolf343

    Ironically, the soldiers who were actually at the events of “The Bridge At The River Kwai” hated that movie because of how it presented their commanding officer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    One thing that occurred to me when Chloe in particular jumped out at me from that list.  All this use of the plain simple present tense, “is”, when they list these heights & weights.  For a series of books that spans something like 1,007 years.  Including Chloe, who, I believe, was pregnant and had a child at some time.  But she just plain is 125 pounds, no ifs, ands, or buts.  Even the manly menfolk, I’d expect some variation in weight over a millennium or so, and likely even in the ones who don’t even last seven years.

  • aunursa

    I presume that the description in the Handbook is that of the character when he or she is first introduced.  I don’t think the authors of the LBAH intended that their readers would assume that specific descriptions of weight and hair color, for example, were meant to apply to the various characters over the course of the entire series. Also bear in mind that the LBAH was published years before Book #16, which covers the millenium following Book #12.

  • Lori

     

    But regarding L&J, their tall heroes are probably the least of their
    writing flaws. Tall (6′+) heroes are a common trope in everything from
    romance novels to spy thrillers.   

    This is true and often cracks me up when it’s just ridiculously OTT or not very true to life. For example, I’m unconvinced that there’s ever been a fictional SEAL less the 6’2″. IRL they’re almost all shorter than that. I think the average is between 5’9″ and 5’11″. Being very tall has some serious disadvantages for them, both in training and on the job, so to speak. Obviously some of them are quite tall and at least one guy managed to get in even though he actually exceeded the height limit, but it’s not the norm.

    It’s also not the norm for the male half of a m/f couple to be a full head taller than his lady love, but I see that all the time in books and I find it at least mildly annoying. It’s such a lazy cliche that reenforces stereotypical gender roles in a way that I find endlessly frustrating. Plus I’m pretty tall for a woman so I’m not a fan of the implication that desirable = short. (To be clear, I’m fine with short some of the time, but when I find myself on a multi-book streak of delicate little flower heroines I start to develop a twitch.)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I actually kind of like the idea of equal or almost equal-height couples in fiction. Trying to imagine the mechanics of hugging gets a lot harder when you work out how a woman who’s like 5 foot 8 is supposed to be able to kiss a 6 foot 3 man without him crouching or her standing on her very tippytippytoes.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Speaking as a 5’6″ woman who once dated a 6’4″ man: stepstool or chair, or be sitting or reclining instead of standing. Your point is quite valid nonetheless.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Personally, I like dating guys who are close to my own height–less neck crick while kissing. That said, there have been some big height discrepancies in my family–my dad has almost eight inches on my mom, one grandfather had almost a full foot on his wife.

    What really gets me is that the height of a LaJenkinsian hero is so important, and it is pretty much the only concrete physical descriptor we usually get. What color are Rayford’s eyes? What does Michael Murphy’s hair look like–color, style? No way I could tell you, but I know they’re really tall. Really makes me wonder if LaHaye was teased by the other boys for his height when he was a kid.

  • depizan

    I prefer similar height couples in fiction, too.  But I tend to like things that mess with more sexist tropes, and the whole size difference thing (especially when huge) feels like it’s playing into the men (manly men!) and women (cute, tiny things) are different thinking.

    (Not that I’d side-eye a work of fiction just for having a tiny woman and a big guy, of course.  For one thing, there are couples like that in real life.)

    What I do side-eye is when a fictional couple has a huge difference in height and we never hear how they deal with the height difference.  I don’t really want to be reading a kissing scene and wondering if she’s gained the ability to hover.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    So only Chloe gets a specific weight, eh?

    One that makes her medically underweight, too.

    Colour me shocked.

  • firefall

    Suicide?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Riastlin-Lovecraft/100000678992705 Riastlin Lovecraft

    *Glances at the ‘Allo Allo’ boxset*

  • Joshua

    I lost touch with him about ten years ago. I guess you could say I still know him, but I don’t have any idea what city he might live in now, what job he might be in, or what.

    I guess from your question you were hoping for something a little more interesting than that. So, sorry about that I guess.

  • Joshua

    Or just bashing their heads on things. I bash my head on low door lintels more often than I like. I seem to have a hard skull.

    True about top shelves. And lightbulbs.

  • KarenH.

     I’m really sorry that you were parented that way.  When I have Christians telling me that a rebellious heart basically nullifies actually doing what God (or parents) want out of us, I ask them to reread Jonah.  (A book that I love, btw, because Jonah reminds me so much of a surly teenager–and I admit, I kind of have a fondness for them.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Umm, sorry, that was another joke.  As in, he was 6’6″, what happened to him so that he’s shorter now?  Yeah, not exactly some of my best material.

  • flat

    There is a left behind handbook!

    May God have mercy upon our souls.

  • Mrs Grimble

     ….”Verna’s… are getting BIGGER…
    “And Loretta’s…got more than…THEM ALL…”

  • aunursa

    Of course there is a handbook.  There are Left Behind newsletters, screen savers, wallpapers, video games, etc.  There’s also a video, The Making of Left Behind: The Movie, hosted by Janaya Stevens (Chloe), and featuring interviews with the cast and crew.  I haven’t seen t-shirts, caps, or coffee mugs, yet.

  • Trynn

    Actually, the “over sized bag” comment really bothered me.  I’m tired, so I might not explain this well, but a lot of times men complain about the size of a woman’s purse. “What all do you have in there, the kitchen sink?”

    The comment seems more like a dig at women, to me. Although it’s possible that, in the hands of A Better Author, it would have come across as good characterization. Here, it just seems to reinforce sexist stereotypes.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    That is a good point there; about Jonah.  Fred’s talked about that many times – not in that specific context but it certainly does get the point across doesn’t it?

  • http://newpillowbook.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/friday-fictioneers-lunacy/ esmerelda_ogg

     5 foot 8? Pfff. Try 5 foot 1 kissing 6 foot 2. I find it helpful to stand on the bottom step of the stairs – makes us a lot closer to the same height. And yes, if there are no stairs handy, tippytoes (and probably crouching, but that’s not my side of the probelm) are required.

  • Jenora Feuer

     Carpe Diem!  Et aliis.
    (Seize the day!  And all else.)

  • Jenora Feuer

     Yes, my parents were 5’1″ and 6’0″… and my 6’0″ father was the shortest of three brothers.  They went through some of that.  Then there was me in the middle.  I used to get annoyed because my mother had hung a pot of Martha Washingtons from the ceiling near the exit to the deck; she was short enough to walk under it, my father was tall enough that he could see it, and I was the only one who kept banging my head on it because it was just above eye level to me.

    On the other hand, my 6’3″ old landlord used to hate coming down into the basement of the house because there was one radiator pipe running across below ceiling level that he would always bang his head on because it was below the top of his head but just barely above eye level.  There’s still a towel wrapped around that pipe to this day.

  • Guest

    There’s a handbook. there used to be a chat room where L&J (well, J, anyway) used to hang out with the fans.

    And there are other reviewers. “Total Drek” got through Book 1.
    http://totaldrek.blogspot.com/2010/08/left-behind-index.html

    Verna’s bag: isn’t there a theory that he older the woman, the larger her handbag? Until she reaches the point of “oh, skip it!” and either wears purple or reverts to a clutch. Either way, the suitcase stage doesn’t last for life.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    Being 6’1″ tall myself, I totally understand the whole “bashing head into things” thing I think it’s particularly bad for me because like you mention with the hung pot… most things are just high enough to be not eye level, but just low enough I’m still going to bang my head on them >.< So there's this relatively low-hanging chandelier in the middle of the  room and invariably I'd bash my head on it.

    That only stopped when she started hanging a plastic flower from it so that I have some sort of signal "There's something there, walk around!

  • Jenora Feuer

     Yes, well I’m only 5’9″ and I was still banging my head into things… because my 5’1″ mother had limits to how high she could easily set up things like hanging pots.  Really it’s more an issue of relative height to the other people around you than absolute height, for the most part.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    While I’ve run across plenty of authors who have “types” of heroes, I honestly can’t think of any others who insist on not just tall, but quite tall heroes.

    Yes, this.

    And as for romance novels, yes, a majority of those heroes are “tall”, but it’s a far smaller majority than people are assuming. Also, they are very rarely really, really tall, as 6’4 is. You can’t go by covers, book covers are nonsense 95% of the time, and more nonsense with romance novels than other genres. Most romance novelists don’t give height measurements anyway, beyond medium, tall, and short, unless it is actually important to characterization. Because most romance novelists are competent writers. The dismissal of romance novels is entirely unfair.  

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Trying to imagine the mechanics of hugging gets a lot harder when you work out how a woman who’s like 5 foot 8 is supposed to be able to kiss a 6 foot 3 man without him crouching or her standing on her very tippytippytoes.

    It’s not at all difficult. It involves him crouching a tiny bit and her stretching a little bit.

    I’m 5’8 and one of those men I knew who was over 6’4 was a man I dated. Not a bit of a problem.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Speaking of heights and sexism, the nurse at my mother’s labor said I was going to be a boy because both of my parents were tall.

    Yes. The nurse.

    I wonder where she thought my tall mother came from.

  • The Lodger

    “Mom was Raptured and all I got was this lousy t-shirt…”

    Y’know, I’d pay real money for one of those

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    Fair point that >,<

  • aunursa

    It’s not at all difficult. It involves him crouching a tiny bit and her stretching a little bit.

    Exactly.   There’s a 7-inch height difference between my wife and me, and it’s never affected our ability to be affectionate.

  • depizan

    Buck is “several inches shorter than Ken Ritz, a foot taller than Chaim.”
    Ken Ritz is “tall, lean.”
    Chaim’s height is not indicated.

    Wait, what?  How short can Chaim be for his lack of height not to be remarked upon? If he’s 5’4 (making Buck the same height as Rayford), we now have Ken Ritz being at least 6’7.  O_o

    If we make Ken Ritz the same height as Rayford, we’ve got Buck standing at 6’1 and Chaim at 5’1. O_o  How could that not be remarkable?  Sure, there are men who are short, even that short, but they’re unusual enough that people generally kind of notice.

    Then you add in that Bruce and Leon get described as short… does that mean they’re shorter than Chaim, who apparently isn’t described as short (unless we’re supposed to get that from his being a foot shorter than Buck)?

    Then there’s the oddness of having the supervillain be shorter than the heroes.  Unless “over 6 feet tall” was supposed to mean 6’6 or something.  I mean, generally villains are taller than the heroes so that they look imposing.  (At least in comic books and pulp stories.)


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