NRA: We’re back in the car again

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 95-107

Buck Williams’ wife, Chloe, is trapped in the crumpled wreck of his Range Rover somewhere off the side of Lake Shore Drive. Buck is “walking quickly” to her side.

He’s already run more than a mile, and now:

There was no running left in him, despite his fear that she might be bleeding or in shock.

“I’m in the strangest place,” she said, and he sensed her fading.

She babbles on for a bit, “dreamily,” sounding “as if she were about to fall asleep.” She drifts in and out of consciousness and occasionally Buck hears “her groan painfully.” And he walks on. Briskly.

One odd thing about this whole Buck-searching-for-Chloe sequence is what does not happen in any of this. Buck doesn’t pray.

Chloe is in the car and Buck is in the tree … so where is the dinosaur?

The heroes of these books often make a show of pious prayer. Readers were even made to endure a multi-page silent prayer session in Bruce’s office in which their spiritual — and literal — groaning was at once, like a poorly written sex scene, overly explicit and helplessly vague. Buck and Rayford frequently pause to pray for guidance or divine protection or wisdom before meeting with their boss, the Antichrist, or before undertaking some more mundane task.

Yet here Buck hasn’t got a prayer.

That’s odd to me, since these are exactly the sorts of situations in which I’m most inclined to pray. I think that’s true for most people who believe in God even in the vaguest sense. Trekking on foot through a smoldering city, with scenes of devastation all around, many of us would reflexively be offering up some variation of the “God help those poor bastards” prayer. If I were desperate to find my injured wife and had no idea which direction to turn, I’m sure I’d be blurting out some form of your basic “A little help here!” prayer. And once I’d found out where she was and heard her weak, fading voice over the phone, my every sentence to her — “Hold on, I’m coming!” — would be accompanied by a pleading demand of a prayer making the same urgent request/command.

(In such dire situations, I confess, my prayers tend to sound a bit like those of Pedro Cerrano in Major League — “I’m pissed off now, Jobu. Look, I go to you. I stick up for you. You don’t help me now, I say ‘F–k you, Jobu.’ I do it myself …” — but these are still prayers. The book of Psalms, by the way, is filled with prayers very much like Cerrano’s.)

After that bit quoted above, with Buck having “no running left in him” even as “he sensed her fading,” I really expected the next lines to be Buck praying the beloved words of Isaiah 40:31 — “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint” –  and then for him to feel suddenly energized, sprinting to Chloe’s side as though on eagle’s wings.

Such a direct, instantaneous answer to prayer might not seem realistic, but it would be more realistic than the idea that Buck Williams, a real, true evangelical Christian, would be in this situation without praying such a prayer.

So from page 96 through page 99 we get a phone conversation between Buck and a dazed, groggy Chloe in which she describes her predicament. And then on pages 102 and 103, Buck arrives and describes the same situation in much the same words.

Repetition, alas, does not provide clarity. Buck’s Adventure With the Range Rover and the Tree, which unfolds over the next several pages, depends on readers being able to picture this scene quite precisely, and Jerry Jenkins doesn’t give us much to go on.

We should give Jenkins points here for degree-of-difficulty. This sort of scene is not easy to pull off. It’s a kind of writing that almost requires one to story-board out the sequence as though you were preparing to film it. Unless the writer has a perfectly clear image of the scene in mind, there’s no way we readers will be able to get a clear picture of it in ours.

The Range Rover was lodged between the trunk and lower branches of a large tree and the concrete abutment. “Turn those lights off, hon!” Buck called out. “Let’s not draw attention to ourselves now.”

That bit about the lights and an upcoming little bit about Buck using a flashlight are the first indications we have that it’s nighttime. Maybe I missed some earlier clue, but it wasn’t until I got to the flashlight that I realized that Buck has been running/walking around in the dark this whole time.

Buck doesn’t want to draw the attention of rescue personnel for the same reason he was so evasive when speaking with them earlier. Readers are apparently supposed to understand what this reason might be, but I don’t. It seems to me that the attention of police, firefighters or EMTs is exactly what Chloe needs just now.

I suppose Buck’s reasoning is that all such emergency responders now work for the one-world government of the Global Community, and thus they are all in a sense in the employ of the Antichrist. But Buck is too. It also may be that he’s worried that while rescuing his ailing wife, those emergency personnel might stumble across the print-outs from Bruce’s hard drive in the back of the SUV. You know how it is after the nuclear destruction of a city — cops are on the prowl for reams of email print-outs that they can skim in search of potentially troubling theology. Rather than risk that, Buck decides it’s better to deny his wife professional medical assistance. Better safe than sorry.

The next paragraph gives us a slightly better picture of the scene, but only slightly:

The wheels of the vehicle pressed almost flat against the wall, and Buck was amazed that the tree could sustain the weight. Buck had to climb into the tree to look down through the driver’s-side window.

Here’s what I’ve got: The Range Rover is tilted onto its right side, with the passenger door facing the ground. The wheels of the SUV are touching a concrete wall of indeterminate height or purpose.

And there’s a tree. It’s large. Based on the apparent abundance of lower branches, I’m guessing it’s some kind of pine tree.

Is the passenger side of the SUV lying on the ground? Or is the vehicle suspended, somehow, in the branches of the tree? Maybe it’s tipped nearly onto its side, leaning partly against the “trunk and lower branches” of the tree? But no, the wheels are “almost flat against the wall,” and that would mean the side of the SUV is also almost flat against the ground, right? So in what way is the tree having to “sustain the weight”?

Chloe’s position is a bit clearer. She “seemed to be dangling from the seat belt” of the driver’s seat. The driver’s side window is facing up, but it’s closed. So we get half a page of Chloe painfully squirming to turn the ignition on so that she can open the window. (Those of us driving no-option, no-extras models with dependable manual windows are excused for feeling a little smug here.)

“Can you unlatch your seat belt without hurting yourself?”

“I’ll try, Buck, but I hurt all over. I’m not sure what’s broken and what isn’t.”

“Try to brace yourself somehow and get loose of that thing. Then you can stand on the passenger’s-side window and lower this one.”

Our image of the SUV comes a bit more into focus — flat on the ground on its right side. And I guess the roof of the car is pressed up against the tree somehow.

Chloe can’t get out of the seatbelt, but she does manage to get her window open.

Buck reached down with both hands to try to support her. “I was so worried about you,” he said.

“I was worried about me too,” Chloe said. “I think I took all the damage to my left side. I think my ankle’s broken, my wrist is sprained, and I feel pain in my left knee and shoulder.”

… “You’re not bleeding anywhere?”

“I don’t think so.”

“I hope you’re not bleeding internally.”

“Buck, I’m sure I’d be long gone by now if I were bleeding internally.”

“So you’re basically all right if I can get you out of there.”

Yeah, she’s fine.

This next bit I can actually picture, except for how the tree fits in:

Buck lay across the side of the nearly upended Range Rover and reached way down in to put one forearm under Chloe’s right arm and grab her waistband at the back with the other. He lifted as she pushed the seat belt button. She was petite, but with no foundation or way to brace himself it was all Buck could do to keep from dropping her. She moved her feet out from under the dashboard and stood gingerly. Her feet were on the passenger’s-side door, and her head now was near the steering wheel.

Apart from wondering how Buck grabs something with his forearm, I followed most of that. The SUV is lying on its right side. Buck is lying atop its left side. Still not sure about the tree, or how “nearly upended” is meant to describe “flat on its side,” but I think I know where Buck and Chloe are at this point.

Chloe begs for help getting out of the SUV she’s been trapped in for the last several hours:

“I really want out of here in a bad way, Buck. Can we get that door open, and can you help me climb?”

Buck responds to this direct request with some ill-advised banter:

“I just have one question for you first. Is this how our married life is going to be? I’m going to buy you expensive cars, and you’re going to ruin them the first day?”

“Normally that would be funny –”

“Sorry.”

And then Buck shows he wasn’t entirely kidding, because instead of opening the door and helping her climb out, he asks Chloe to give him the flashlight from the glove compartment so he can inspect the damage to his precious.

He looked all around the vehicle. The tires were still good. There was some damage to the front grille, but nothing substantial. He turned off the flashlight and slid it into his pocket. With much groaning and whimpering, Chloe came climbing out of the car, with Buck’s help.

As they both sat on the upturned driver’s side, Buck felt the heavy machine moving in its precarious position.

For just a second there I was sure I had a clear picture of the scene. The car is lying flat on its right side, Buck and Chloe are sitting on top of it. But no, that can’t be right, because it’s position must be “precarious,” and a boxy Range Rover lying on its side isn’t going to be “moving in its precarious position.”

Chloe decides its easier to “go two feet up to the top of the abutment” than to climb down from the top/side of the car, so I mentally readjust the height of said abutment, still wondering what it is that it’s abutting, while Buck gives Chloe a boost up onto the top of the wall — wherever that may be and whatever might be up there.

And here I completely lose track of Jenkins’ storyboard:

When she made the last thrust with her good leg, the Range Rover shifted just enough to loosen itself from the wickedly bent tree branches. The tree and the Range Rover shuddered and began to move. “Buck! Get out of there! You’re going to be crushed!”

Buck was spread-eagled on the side of the Range Rover that had been facing up. Now it was shifting toward the abutment, the tires scraping and leaving huge marks on the concrete. The more Buck tried to move, the faster the vehicle shifted, and he realized he had to stay clear of that wall to survive. He grabbed the luggage rack as it moved toward him and pulled himself to the actual top of the Range Rover. Branches snapped free from under the vehicle and smacked him in the head, scraping across the car. The more the car moved, the more it seemed to want to move, and to Buck that was good news — provided he could keep from falling. First the car moved, then the tree moved, then both seemed to readjust themselves at once. …

And, like Buck, I’m struggling to readjust as well to my ever-shifting attempt to picture what’s going on here.

… Buck guessed that the Range Rover, once free of the pressure from the branches, had about three feet to drop to the ground. He only hoped it would land flat. It didn’t.

The car was suspended off the ground? That’s something Jenkins might have mentioned earlier.

The heavy vehicle, left tires pressed against the concrete and several deeply bowed branches pushing it from the right side, began slipping to the right. Buck buried his head in his hands to avoid the springing out of those branches as the Range Rover fell clear of them. They nearly knocked him into the wall again. Once the Range Rover was free of the pressure of the branches, it lurched down onto its right side tires and nearly toppled. Had it rolled that way, it would have crushed him into the tree. But as soon as those tires hit the ground, the whole thing bounced and lurched, and the left tires landed just free of the concrete. The momentum made the left side of the vehicle smash into the concrete, and finally it came to rest. Less than an inch separated the vehicle from the wall now, but there the thing sat on uneven ground.

I’m willing to give Jenkins the benefit of the doubt here and guess that repeated close and slow readings of this scene might yield some coherent sequence of physical events. I’d bet that if we gave him a half hour, some graph paper, a white board and some miniature models, he could walk us through all of that and show us what he was imagining in a way that made sense.

Or maybe not. But even if I don’t understand how we wound up here, I think I understand this part:

Except for the damage to the front grille and the scrapes on both sides, one from concrete and one from tree branches, the car looked little the worse for wear.

And it still runs. Buck climbs in and slides behind the wheel … but, oh no! — now the SUV is trapped in a rut. The adventure continues:

The Rover was in automatic and four-wheel drive. When he tried to go forward it seemed he was in a rut. He quickly switched to stick shift and all-wheel drive, gunned the engine, and popped the clutch. Within seconds he was free of the tree and out onto the sand.

And readers, too, are back on familiar ground as Jenkins settles back into the Cliff-Claven-esque narration we’ve come to expect. (“Ya see, dere, Sammy. When you get stuck like that, whatcha need ta do is switch to stick-shift and all-wheel drive, then pop the clutch. Works like a chahm …”)

The top of the abutment turns out to be an overpass. Like the Range Rover, Lake Shore Drive, the (pine?) tree, and the rest of Chicago, the overpass is “little the worse for wear” after the nuclear bombs, so Buck drives up onto it and helps get Chloe back in  the car.

He fastened her seat belt and was on the phone before he got back into the car.

Of course he was, but here he has a good reason — calling Loretta to “call around and find any doctor in the church” to tend to Chloe once they arrive.

Buck tried to drive carefully so as not to exacerbate Chloe’s pain. However, he knew the shortest way home. When he got to the huge barrier at Michigan Avenue on the LSD, he swung left and …

Yeah, ya see dere, Norm, the most direct route isn’t always the shortest. Now to someone who doesn’t know the area as well as I do, it might seem like you’d want to swing right there, but …

And on like that, for half a page more. It’s almost, but not quite, as thrilling as reading directions from Google Maps.

 

  • ReverendRef

    After that bit quoted above, with Buck having “no running left in him”
    even as “he sensed her fading,” I really expected the next lines to be
    Buck praying the beloved words of Isaiah 40:31 — “They that wait upon
    the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as
    eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not
    faint”

    That’s probably what Buck should have been saying/praying.  But this is BUCK, RTC we’re talking about here (and more importantly, Buck, RTC as created by LaJenkins), which means they’ve probably never read Isaiah 40.  I’m willing to bet the only part of Isaiah they’ve actually read is Isaiah 53 — the Suffering Servant chapter.

    Daniel + Revelation + Suffering Servant = RTC.

    Oh, and for my money, a scene of a car with damage that is still drivable would be from Planes, Trains and Automobiles after it’s driven between two trucks on the interstate and then catches fire.

  • aunursa

    The idea that a significant number of contemporary Americans consider these books morally or theologically instructive, rather than the complete antithesis of love and compassion, is genuinely chilling. 

    Who is your favorite character in the Left Behind Series? (2012 poll)
    Cameron (Buck) Williams: 46%
    Rayford Steele: 16%
    Rabbi Ben-Judah: 16%
    Chloe Steele Williams: 11%
    Nicolae Carpathia: 11%
    Amanda Steele: 2%

    Katia_0203, March 7th, 2009, 12:06 AM:
    I cried FOREVER when Chloe was killed; I loved her. I also really liked Rayford. My favorite minor character would probably be David Hassid. These books led me to Christ :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    The Rover was in automatic and four-wheel drive. When he tried to go forward it seemed he was in a rut. He quickly switched to stick shift and all-wheel drive, gunned the engine, and popped the clutch. Within seconds he was free of the tree and out onto the sand.

    No.

    Nonono. Nononononononono.

    2 pretty big things wrong with this part: 1) Cars don’t come with 4WD AND AWD. 2) Cars that have a manual/automatic selector still DO NOT HAVE CLUTCHES.

    What he’s basically saying is “well, I noticed that the car I had couldn’t get the job done, so I magically replaced it with a car with different options.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    That made me think of Conan and Crom as well – specifically a bit that I just encountered recently in a reprint of an old issue of Savage Sword of Conan.  It’s not a prayer, but I thought it was a good line (and a good summation of Cimmerian theology):

    Even Crom gives me nothing, and I ask for no more.

  • Kadh2000

    Reading along here, I’ve been under the impression that Chloe would be in a mangled car somewhere on the road among a bunch of other mangled cars.  I imagined from her dialogue that she would be pretty badly hurt and all but unconscious by the time Buick reached her. 

    I read the title of the post and guessed that Buick would find an abandoned car while searching for Chloe and drive that to the rescue. 

    From Jenkins’s description, I was able to put together the position of the car.  I wondered how it was possible to get in that position, but I could picture it.  Then Buick described the extend of damage to both Chloe and the car and I was extremely put out. 

    The final position of Chloe and car does quite explain why there was no need to worry about Buick calling his dad, brushing off first responders, bitching at Verna, and in general not doing everything he could to get to Chloe as soon as he heard about the accident.

    As a writer with a set of LEGO bricks, I have no trouble building odd scenarios and having them make sense.  Sadly, all this one needed was a few sentences to the effect of “Buick helped Chloe from the car.  With the change in its load, it shifted position and, ironically protected by the tree, fell to the ground in a more-or-less upright position.  With minimal effort Buick was able to get it going again.”  Back to plot.  Same amount of “drama” and saves 11.873 pages of space.

  • Guest

    I am an atheist but in times of emergency I catch myself think things like ‘someone please help me’ or, if a person is in trouble ‘please let them be alright’. These are not proper Christian prayers but generalised pleas to the universe in times of stress. Strange that Buck has less of an instict for prayer than an atheist.

    It’s weird that Chloe’s still in the car as well. It’s been hours, if she’s not badly hurt what stops her climbing out? She apparently need step-by-step instructions before she can figure out how to get out of a stationary car.

    The switching off of the car headlights would make sense in a zombie apocalypse or a place where there were likely to be hungry animals or unscruplous people about. Maybe Jenkins saw it in a movie.

    Buck doesn’t act like a man who is deeply in love with his new wife. Making jokes when your spouse is in trouble seems more like a thing for a man jaded by years of marriage to do. Even then it’s inappropriate when she’s still supposedly in mortal danger and in pain.

  • ReverendRef

     You know where this would work, just maybe? If Jenkins had just moved
    the location another ten miles north, up Sheridan Ave and into Winnetka.
    They have real bluffs there, and trees!

    If I recall from my days in Evanston, they also have a plethora of Range Rovers in driveways where the closest they will come to being “off-road” is if their owner moves them onto the lawn for the weekly wash.

  • ReverendRef

    “I really want out of here in a bad way, Buck.”

    Who talks like that?

    The faithful sidekick who’s about to die in any spaghetti western.

  • hidden_urchin

    Yeah, but a burning gas tank would definitely bring an end to the Range Rover and Jenkins can’t have that.  You see it a lot with novice writers.  They just can’t bring themselves to kill a beloved character even if the story demands it.  Thus, tension suffers. 

  • depizan

    How wide are Land Rovers?  Are they _really_ more than 5’7″ wide?  Because if they’re not then even the parts of this scene that made sense don’t make sense.

  • hidden_urchin

    What he’s basically saying is “well, I noticed that the car I had couldn’t get the job done, so I magically replaced it with a car with different options.

    Oh, it all makes sense then.  The Range Rover is still stuck in the tree or actually in a smashed heap on the ground.  This whole thought process is the result of a nasty concussion as Buck clearly suffered a head injury trying to rescue Chloe.  He’s gotten into another vehicle and is momentarily conflating the two in his confusion.

    I like this interpretation better than repeating that Jenkins is all hat and no cattle.

  • fnordcola

    “When he got to the huge barrier at Michigan Avenue on the LSD, he swung left and …”
    And now I want this to segue into a deranged yet oddly affecting monologue in the style of Hunter S. Thompson.

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

    Dimensions of Land Rover (a 2012, but still):

    http://www.landrover.com/us/en/lr/lr4/explore/lr4/

  • Tricksterson

    I think the Bookworld must regard the LB series as their equivalent to a toxic waste dump.

  • Tricksterson

    Words fail me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    ˙uʍop əpısdn ʇuəɯɯoɔ oʇ ɥɔıɥʍ uo ʇsod ʇɔəɟɹəd əɥʇ sı sıɥʇ

  • Tricksterson

    Hmmm, just ocurred to me, Crom is pretty much a libertarian deity isn’t he?  He gives you life and what you need to get started and you’re on your own from there.

  • fraser

     And you definitely don’t get distracted from helping your wife in order to inspect the car. I can just imagine my wife if I decided to leave her in the car while checking the tires (let alone when it’s suspended in a tree).

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    a pit that has a conveniently located, mature, tree in a place where most of the trees are small and ornamental.

    I would think that maybe Jenkins was doing some extrapolation, this being supposed to be “in the future” such small trees (recently planted in contemporary times) might have grown substantially in between the present day and the nebulous period these books take place in.  

    But once again, I am probably giving this a lot more thought than I am willing to credit to Jenkins, judging by all the rest of the continuity and speculative fail he has shown.

  • fraser

     I do wonder, like Fred, why Buck is so scared. As a highly ranked member of Nicolai’s inner circle, he should be commanding obedience and pulling strings, not skulking like a wounded gang member in a crime thriller.

  • fraser

     They’re the Tribulation X-Force.

  • fraser

     And what is this about her fading? She’s perfectly capable of witty banter, doesn’t seem to be in pain–it’s like the parody characters who shrug off insane amounts of damage as Just a Scratch.
    And you can bleed internally for a long time without dying.

  • fraser

     I thought the same thing.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    That’s roughly what I was about to say. I’m an atheist, but if a theist chooses to interpret a rush of adrenaline that allowed them to save their loved one as a gift from God, I can sure as hell respect that.

    I may not share a faith with any particular sect, but I can still understand and accept that prayer can have power.  I will argue over the focus of that power though.  I think that prayer is something one does to bolster oneself (or group prayer bolsters the assembled group.)  In cases like this, the surge of adrenaline is the mundane explanation for the second wind a desperate person might feel, but I think it is ignorant to assume that the person’s state of mind has no effect on this.  Context is important to the body, and a person’s perception will affect how their body reacts.  Someone running on their own might tire out, the same person discovering that they are being chased by velociraptors is probably going to tire out later due to the desperation of the situation.  

    Likewise, someone who believes that they are all alone and no one else is there to help them is more likely to give up in despair.  However, someone who thinks that they have God at their backs, observing, judging, and reassuring them, is more likely to press on when things seem darkest.  

    What really irks me about a lot of arguments about faith (whether from over-pious theists or militant atheists) is that there is an assumption that the same kind of psychological and emotional structures which support them and help prop them up must necessarily work for everyone and anyone who disagrees is delusional.  I want others to embrace what works for them, what gives them comfort and strength, and I expect them to extend me the same courtesy.  If they want to teach me what they believe because I might find such knowledge useful for informing my own coping mechanisms, that is wonderful, but I hope they are not offended if I do not incorporate every idea that they offer.  Some work better for me than others.  

  • Ken
    “I really want out of here in a bad way, Buck.”

    Who talks like that?

    Someone who’s just realized her husband is a sociopath?  Sure, there were clues earlier, like when Buck was bargaining for a car in the middle of a nuclear war, but maybe Chloe missed them.  Lying there injured and trapped while he inspects the paintwork, though…

  • Thebewilderness

    That seems a lot of trouble to go to for a cheap shot at women drivers.

  • GeniusLemur

    No, it’s not believeable. But which is worse: having the rover miraculously unharmed, or having that whole damn scene at the car dealership, then wrecking the rover a chapter or so later?

  • reynard61

    “Is it me or does most of Chloe’s dialogue read like it should end in ‘you idiot’?”

    No, it’s not just you. In fact, this whole series would probably have been markedly improved if, whenever a secondary character (or “NPC”, if you will) had spoken to Ray-Ray or Cam-Cam (or Bruce-Bruce, or even Nick-Nick), they had ended their dialogue with those two words. It might have made things a helluva lot more interesting and entertaining.

  • GeniusLemur

    (Sorry, wasn’t clear) So all that stage business at the car dealership was for nothing, and now we have to sit through Buck car shopping AGAIN

  • http://mistermunshun.blogspot.com/ Carl Eusebius

     

    the reason that Jerry Jenkins didn’t have Buck pray for Chloe was that Jerry knew that Chloe was going to be okay.

    I think you’ve got it. I’ve written quite a bit about this in the case of Twilight. The author surrogate doesn’t act the way a normal person would act in her situation because the author doesn’t separate her own knowledge from the character’s knowledge. Instead of putting herself in her character’s shoes, she puts her character in her own shoes, and we get scenes like this one right here.

    The term “Mary Sue” gets thrown around too much, and some critics have said it’s harming young writers by making them deathly afraid of having their work slapped with the dreaded label. But when your character is not only an idealized version of yourself but an actual stand in for you, right down to knowing everything you know and acting in accordance with that knowledge, you’ve got yourself a Mary Sue.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Do they literally sprout wings?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    yea, Yes, YES!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    I wonder if they’re ever going to explain how the accident happened in the first place.  Or how she managed to sit there for hours without anyone stopping to help.  (I guess everyone was busy fleeing the city.  It was just bombed, right?  Kind of hard to tell.)

  • Otrame

    “I’m pissed off now, Jobu. Look, I go to you. I stick up for you. You don’t help me now, I say ‘F–k you, Jobu.’ I do it myself”

    As an atheist, I consider that speach one of the great moments in American film. Forget about waiting for a god, just get out there and do it yourself.

    But, of course, the “heroes” of NRA won’t do anything even though God is on their side.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    He quickly switched to stick shift and all-wheel drive, gunned the
    engine, and popped the clutch. Within seconds he was free of the tree
    and out onto the sand.

    Sand?

    Leaving aside for the moment that I have been picturing this taking place in the southbound lanes, How, exactly, does Buck get from the street to the sand without jumping a concrete wall?  And a pedestrian pathway?

    Or did the not-so-nuclear blast knock half of the sand from the lakeshore onto the road?

  • Baby_Raptor

    Seriously. You’re supposedly hanging in a car in a tree, with multiple highly painful injuries. 

    Swear words. Lots of them. And no patience whatsoever, especially when Bucky Boy decides “Hey, screw my terrified and in pain wife, I want to see how badly my car is damaged.”

  • Carstonio

    Since Buck is relatively new at being a Christian, it makes some sense that he wouldn’t pray for    help. He might still think of prayer as mostly a ritual.

  • WalterC

     Not really. This book generally makes it seem as if anyone who says the conversion prayer automatically begins thinking and talking like an evangelical Christian from the PMD tradition. They are instantly familiar with the jargon, the beliefs about sex, and the attitudes towards the outside world, as if they were raised in it.

  • DorothyD

    I’d bet that if we gave him a half hour, some graph paper, a white board and some miniature models, he could walk us through all of that and show us what he was imagining in a way that made sense.

    Let’s see if this makes sense: The car is lying on it right side, supported by tree branches some unspecified distance off the ground, with its wheels resting against a concrete abutment or wall a few feet higher. Buck climbs on top of the vehicle (that is, onto its left side) to help Chloe escape. Apparently the extra weight doesn’t make the Rover shift on the branches. Chloe climbs out and up onto the abutment, at which time the Rover becomes unstable in the tree and starts to shift back upright, its left wheels scraping downward against the wall, so Buck desperatelyclimbs up onto the roof. There is a brief moment of suspense as the Rover tips back towards its right side during its descent and so puts Buck in danger of being crushed against the tree.

    But the suspense passes without notice as Jenkins conveniently flips the vehicle onto its four wheels by allowing the bent branches underneath it to slip free when the right tires hit the ground first and the Rover bounces. It lands with the left side (where only seconds ago Buck had been sitting) a mere inch from the concrete wall. In other words, Buckie would have been squashed if he’d stayed where he was.

    In short, forget Chloe. It was All About Buck and how he’d narrowly escaped being done in by a tree. Whew. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    What WalterC said. Plus, by this point he’s been a RTC for nearly two years. In my experience that’s more than enough time to pick up the popular quirks, like using “just” as an “um” in spoken prayer, and using “praise the Lord” as an expression of surprise, frustration and everything in between.

  • depizan

    Sadly, I can’t determine from that what the interior dimensions are, which is really what matters. It -may- be wide enough that a 5’7 person would need that much help getting out, but, frankly, I can’t even figure out why she couldn’t get out of her seatbelt, so who the hell knows.

    The exterior width is 79.6 inches (6’7.5), which wouldn’t trap an uninjured person, but Chloe is supposed to be injured…sorta…maybe…

    If the writing weren’t so vague, this would be much easier to sort out.

  • DorothyD

    Beats me why she couldn’t just step on the console, or whatever you call that thing with the gear shift,* which would have put her half-way out the window in which case she could have done without Buck’s help. 
    *This thing.

  • Will Hennessy

     Yes. It is also important to note that Chloe is the one doing the thrusting and that Buck is the one who is spread-eagled. Your assignment is a three-page paper on how this reflects on the Ernestian (as in The Importance of Being) nature of Buck relationship with Rayford.

  • Anton_Mates

    He has established that she is 5’7″, 125 pounds.  Now, that’s underweight for that height, but Chloe is still tall. 

    Ah, but Buck is a big tall manly man who must push the driver’s seat all the way back.  I’m pretty sure that, for him “petite” just means that a) she’s not fat and b) she can stand on tiptoes and still look up at him adoringly as he cradles her chin ‘twixt finger and thumb.

    Short is for foreigners, like Chaim the endearing little bill-dodging Jew, Albie the Arab whose real name is too weird for white people to bother trying to pronounce, Viv Ivins (real name Viviana Ivinsova) and Ming Toy.  Amanda White is “tall and handsome.”  Hattie is Sexy feet and Hot inches, and I’m not sure Rayford remembers Irene well enough for her to have a height.

    If Global Community Health Care director Consuela Conchita (yes, that is her full name) had a height it would probably be short, but I’m sure you couldn’t tell under her enormous antibacterial medical sombrero anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    HOOOOOOOOOly MACKerel, ANdy! as my father would say.

  • Will Hennessy

    The physics of this scene are forcing me to remind everyone that this is what LaRayford and Buckins believe is GOING TO HAPPEN very, VERY soon.

    Also: “Who needs feet? You’ve got the flying car!” — Randall Graves

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    For some reason, I kept coming back to the knowledge that Chloe calls her husband Buck. Not honey, or dear, or even Cameron. Buck. I know it’s not unheard of for a lover to refer to their SO by the same nickname as their friends, but for some reason it stuck out as particularly weird here. Must be the terrible dialogue and general bad writing that makes it more obvious.

  • Anton_Mates

    When the group caught and passed a speeding Hummer, Hannah knew they were running at miraculous, supernatural, superhuman speeds.

    My word.  Someone read The Last Battle and said “hmm, we need something like this!  Duller and uglier, though.  And with more fossil fuels.”

  • P J Evans

    The only way a reader could feel tension in these pages is if they assume extra details that aren’t actually part of the scene.

    What if the blast had set the top of the tree on fire, and it’s burning down toward the car, getting close enough to feel just as Buck gets Chloe out?

  • depizan

    Yeah, it’s like Ellenjay forgot that cars aren’t just blank flat walled boxes inside. Which is a damn weird thing to forget, since both of them presumably drive.


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