Saturday, October 5, 2019

El Misterino: Chapter 2

I had every intention of like, actually doing this, and posting every week or every other week or like, at the very least not letting quite so much time past in between chapters.

I have a hard time doing things anymore. No, I won't be clarifying--"things" is the appropriate word. Anything less general would fail to capture just how few "things" I do these days. I find it exhausting to do anything that doesn't allow me to completely shut down my brain, and these days, no one else really cares whether I do anything or not, so there's very little upside to breaking with my recent form and doing things.

But, last weekend I met a couple of people who admitted to having read some of these entries and they weren't under duress or nuthin, so maybe if I write a little more it won't go entirely unnoticed. Or maybe I'll feel better. Anything's possible! [Editor's note: most things are impossible.]

The hell was going on in this book, anyway?

I don't remember; I'm going to have to reread the second chapter, and that's a real bummer and I don't advise anyone do it. I usually end up reading these chapters twice. Once straight through, and then once in chunks as I dissect for larfs. This chapter is going to be at least three passes and that's three too many!

So. Christian Grey died and his little brother is kinda-sorta involved with his widow, Anastasia, but also has a new housekeeper who's from somewhere war-torn or also maybe just Poland? Anyway I think this book is about Christian's brother's housekeeper getting adopted like she's a rescue pet or something, and also probably they have sex. It's going to be like that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry is dating his housekeeper and he doesn't want to pay her because she's not really working and somehow when we watch we're supposed to identify more with the guy who employs a housekeeper than with the housekeeper. I'm on to you, Seinfeld! [Editor's note: Alden is on one of his classic Seinfeld rants but will try to actually read the book after the jump.]

Ok. So the housekeeper is called Alessia which is great because if I were rewriting 50 Shades I'd absolutely give the main character a name that sounds like "Anastasia" without quite being Anastasia.

Alessia is, I think, possibly feral? Or a time traveler from the past?

But worst of all, no one speaks to anyone else, except to say “Excuse me” if they jostle her or “Move down the carriage, please.” Everyone hides behind their free newspaper or listens to music on headphones or stares at their phones or electronic books, avoiding all eye contact.

Is Alessia a thawed out cave-person or what? How is any of this surprising? What's fun is that in the very next paragraph, Alessia reads the free newspaper and is like, dang sure wish I had some headphones! So EL introduces the idea that Alessia finds Londoner's behavior weird and then immediately has her act just like them, so congrats, Alessia, on your very quick assimilation into modern life. Must've been tough! Alessia is basically Leeloo from the Fifth Element. 

Anyway, Alessia goes to Christian Grey's brother's house to do housekeeper stuff, and also she's very excited to "play his piano." Do the quotes make it seem like I'm talking about sex? I'm very good at double entendres! You're right--it was wrong of me to ever stop this. I should be writing all the time. The world needs my wit! Satire will save the republic!

Alessia shows up to "clean house" and the titular "Mister" of our book is home and nekkid. This chapter is awfully low on incident so far. We get it. London is very different from space or wherever Alessia is from. [Editor's note: turns out she's from Albania, a place we know nothing at all about, so good choice, EL!] And this rich guy has a rich guy house, and it's cold out, and he's naked, and also has a tan? Our book is is set in London, in the winter, and somehow, this guy has a tan. Sure why not.

The fact that the guy who lives in the house is in the house is something that Alessia is somehow completely unprepared for, and also she can't even really comprehend how it's possible. I guess there aren't rich people in Albania? Sounds great IMO but srsly, Alessia's shock is pretty irritating. I get that it's awkward, and I get that she's bummed out because she wanted to "play the piano" but can't really do that because then Seinfeld might not pay her.

The Mister--let's call him Jerry until his name comes up again--triggers Alessia's PTSD and makes her think of some other guy back in Albania. It wouldn't be an EL James affair if someone weren't getting over some past trauma through sex!

Alessia is like, doing laundry and stuff and going through Jerry's pockets and taking Jerry's loose change, a scrap of paper with a lady's number on it, and a condom. This is setting up a future conflict where Alessia gets fired for stealing Jerry's condoms, but he'll have a heart and take her back and then they'll find true love. I hope this doesn't actually happen. Who knows!

Jerry wakes up and leaves and says "Bye Krystyna" on his way out and I'm glad that Alessia has replaced Krystyna because it makes my fingers hurt to type Krysytna. Does it make your eyes hurt to read Krytsyna? Sorry! But not that sorry. If I have to endure this, so do you!

Alessia is annoyed that she got called Kyrytyna by Jerry. Wasn't Jerry told that she'd be taking Ksryna's place? She doesn't understand rich people, clearly. The fact that Jerry managed to come up with the name of someone who used to work for him shows a level of engagement beyond what most rich people can manage.

She keeps cleaning. Notices, when she's emptying the trash, that Jerry goes through a ton of condoms. Starts to feel better once he's gone. And then we get this bombshell:

Alessia moves through the rest of the apartment, cleaning, dusting, and polishing, but avoiding the one room she’s not allowed to enter. Fleetingly she wonders what’s behind the closed door, but she doesn’t try to open it. Krystyna was very clear that the room is off-limits.

Folks! Jerry has a sex dungeon. Am I already supposed to know what's in that room? I don't remember. So let's say sex dungeon. Christ. I'm basically doing this like I'm the guy in Memento and I look down and I have tattoos and they just say christian anastasia sex dungeon and I add a new tattoo at the end of each chapter. Because let's be real: it may very well take me six months again to add onto this. That's extremely possible. This could be a semi-annual blog. But you get me. Who has time to read a blog more than 2x per annum? In this economy? But anyway, yeah so sex dungeon.

Anyway then she finishes cleaning and plays piano and I gotta tell you: EL is really not giving me much to work with in these Alessia sections. In the Jerry sections, I can at least make some better jokes because Jerry's a real piece of work. He has all this rich guy stuff going on and also I think he's a lord or some shit so it's all very ripe for satire. But like, EL took a lot of time to have Alessia get to the piano.

Fortunately, that's the end of her section and now we're back with Jerry:

One of the Trevelyan London homes is on Cheyne Walk, a brisk stroll from my flat. Built in 1771 by Robert Adam, Trevelyan House had been Kit’s home since our father died. For me it holds many childhood memories—some happy, some less so—and now it’s mine to do with as I wish.
I include this bit because now I remember that alt Christian Trevelyan Grey is named Kit Trevelyan and we're inching closer to solving the mystery of "what's the name of the main guy in this book?" I also include it because holy shit are you kidding me? My dude is narrating a dang travel show. Who thinks like that? Like, starting a thought with a dependent clause? This is the kind of avant shit you can do if you're EL James and your fanfic has made a billion zillion dollars. Nobody else does this, for good reason.

So Jerry--turns out his name is Max--is checking in on his bro's widow. And there's like a butler and everything and we're supposed to feel sympathy for Max because he's really having a hard time adjusting to being called "Lord" by the help, and we've all been there, right fellas? That thing where some sort of arcane hereditary rich-guy shit falls upon you before you're ready? What I'm saying is, Max is exactly like Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings. He's exactly like some sort of secret king who knows it's up to him to unite the land of men but he's not quite ready for the task, despite his many years rangering. This is all extremely relatable shit that Max / Aragorn are going through, and not at all rich guy shit that makes Max deeply unsympathetic.

Max is an insightful guy tho, as he proves when he checks in on Caroline, his bro's widow.

“Where the fuck have you been?” she snaps.
“Caro,” I begin, ready to placate her.
“Don’t Caro me, you wanker,” she snarls as she stands up, fists clenched.
Shit. She is really angry.

See? This guy gets it! Women are from Venus and men are from Mars, but my dude Max gets. It. He speaks Venusian. He takes look at things and realizes that Caroline is angry at him for dodging all his calls, and all he has to go on are all the extremely angry things that Caroline is saying and doing.

I remember that from the last chapter. Max was with a different woman--a woman who completely saw through his whole deal--and ignored calls from Caroline. They do sex and feel guilty about it. And now, she's angry at him.

Lotsa filler in this one. We keep hitting the same note again and again: Max is not ready to be the patriarch of his rich family. There has been no indication that he has any particular responsibilities. He has lots of property but very few people in his life, so I see no reason why he shouldn't just give half of everything to Caroline and kick back. The money means no worries for the rest of his days. Hakuna Matata!

But wait, a complication??? Caroline is pregnant! And Kit, the dead brother, is the father! This changes everything! To quote Max's inner monologue: Could this be any more complicated? Could this be any more confusing?

Yes, I think is the answer. Yes. It could be more complicated, and it could be more confusing. It's neither so far!

I gotta say: two chapters in and this books is a real snooze. It's maybe more competent than the first two chapters of 50 Shades but it suffers because neither Max nor Alessia are as interesting to follow as Ana, and that is *really* saying something because Ana was kind of a zero. And, nothing has happened yet. Alessia has some dark backstory or whatever that I'm sure will be revealed to us at exactly the point where we've already put it together and thus don't care anymore. And Max will go from rich playboy to rich steward or whatever, because he's got those good genes and deserves to be very wealthy even though he's so clearly a total failson.

I assume that that's the meta-story here: EL is basically concocting a fairytale to "prove" the inherent value of the super-rich. I guess that's kind of her whole project, in a way! Rich people: they do sex better, and they are better, so it's good for them to keep being rich / running the planet.

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