Monthly Archives: February 2009

Some Continued Implausibilities in The Straw Men

  • No chance that a Post-Church Commission CIA hires the protagonist.
  • Little chance that the SAC who gives Nina a ride drives a Lexus.
  • All internet sleuthing—very shaky.
  • The mix-tape that Bobby comes up with.
  • Confusion about the effects of heavy metal exposure.
  • The various overt references to Thomas Harris and The X-Files only highlight the deficiencies in this story-world’s internal coherence, while apparently intending to do the opposite.
  • Bobby as a character—his motivation in diegetic terms versus his obvious narrative function (information dumping).

It would be fascinating, I think, to track the editorial changes in this MS and others in the genre. I doubt that the Thomas Harris books were heavily edited, for example, at least not in major plot terms; but I suspect that this one may have been.

Implausibilities in the Opening Scene of Straw Men, A Novel by Michael Marshall

I ordered this after seeing an intriguing summary in a recent TLS. The opening scene involves a McDonald’s shoot-’em-up, where there are two shooters. The older of the two shoots the younger and flees. If I understood the exposition correctly, no one ever realized, police and all, that there were two shooters.

If television has taught me anything, it’s that forensic analysis, even in 1991, would reveal a) that the younger shooter’s death was not self-inflicted and b) that there were two guns used in the massacre. Now the TLS article mentioned something about “plutocrat hunter-gatherers” who are part of some type of serial murdering cult, and that sounds too sociologically interesting to abandon at this point; but I’m reading under protest.

An Effort

(After “Le Directeur”)

Damn unlucky Thames
Drains the Spectator.
Even the bow-tied editor
Of the Spectator
Leaks phlegm.
The reactionary actuaries
Of the hibernator Spectator
Strut hand-in-hand,
A footpad’s band.
Under land
Darling Lil—
No lace frill—
Hears the snot-nose
Of the hibernator Spectator‘s
Head investigator
And puts on clothes.

I’ve yet to read a convincing explanation of the speaker in this poem, given Eliot’s political sensibilies, though I’m, as always, open to suggestions.