Sunday, April 13, 2008

News And Noise

News 'n Noise was a little too cutesy even for me.

I'm doing various mother things tomorrow and then appearing at the C.J. Hooker Middle School in Goshen, NY, because the library wasn't big enough (hey, I take up a lot of space) and by the time I get home, I won't feel like blogging (or doing much of anything else, most likely). So I figured I'd slip this entry in while no one was watching.

First off, the news. Thanks to my pals at Google, I found out who will be reading the Listening Library version of the dead and the gone:

Robertson Dean has a very impressive resume:

I look forward to hearing his narration of d&g. I really hope that Random House has actual copies as well as downloads available, since my downloading skills leave a lot to be desired (like everything).

That's it for news (unless you want to hear my spring cleaning schedule for the week). So onto noise...

I figured out why Rachel (intelligent girl) can't start school when she wants, which I need if she's going to accompany Luke (bitter hero) to his Life As We Knew It family's home.

You may recall that Hannah (rich girl) had an indentured servant (serv) named Pet, whose contract Hannah sells to raise the money to pay for Luke's transportation across the river (it's okay if you don't recall it; I'll recall it for the both of us). Hannah does this (I discovered) because Luke used to work at a coal mine her father owns, so Hannah feels a connection to Luke and chooses to help him (Luke isn't exactly a fugitive, but his life expectancy will be much greater if he makes it across the river). Ethan (idealistic boy) gets upset, decides to find Pet and rescue her, etc.

Here's what I didn't know when I wrote all that the other day. Hannah sells Pet to a dealer who tells her that he knows of several area bathhouses that are looking for new girls. What Hannah most likely doesn't realize (I'm not one hundred percent committed to her innocence on this one) is that bathhouses are both bathhouses and brothels (think of them as bathels). That's why Ethan is so upset and determined to find and rescue Pet.

So Ethan goes to Luke and says, I'm going to take all the money I have and use it to buy Pet back, but that isn't going to be nearly enough, so give me the money that Hannah gave you, and with any luck, that should be enough.

Luke refuses. But Rachel gives Ethan all the money she has for tuition. And that's why Rachel can't go to school. It's possible she and Luke go to her relatives' home and find they've all died, so she's stuck with Luke as her only protection.

Luke and Rachel may fall in love, but as of the moment, Luke ends up working with Jon (not that I'm sure what Jon does, but whatever it is, it's tough and manly), and Rachel goes to work with a Morales character (I know what she does and it's tough and womanly).

Now that I think about it, tough and womanly is what I'm going to be for the next few days. Not to mention cute and noisy.

If only I could also be intelligent and rich, life truly would be perfect!


Dawn said...

I don't know how much I am liking Luke. He seems like a tool so far. Every other character you have described so far sounds more likable then Luke. I must really be missing something here.


Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Dawn-

If it's any comfort, while I was cleaning soap scum from the shower curtain this afternoon, I decided Pet betrays Luke before Luke betrays her.

I actually did a lot of work today, while spring cleaning my bedroom and the bathrooms (it's a good thing brains are portable). I realized (among many other things) that Luke has a Warner Bros. hero trajectory, like John Garfield, Humphrey Bogart, James Dean. He starts out (with lots and lots of cause) bitter and cynical, and ends up able to love and be loved, and dedicated to fighting the good fight.

I'm not concerned about whether readers will root for him in his most cynical/bitter stage for a couple of reasons. First of all, cynical and bitter can be very attractive (Warner Bros. stayed in business using that formula for a long long time). Secondly, the book is going to start with Luke fighting for his life against great odds (his opponent is allowed to use weapons, and Luke isn't). Once the readers see what an awful situation Luke is in, they're going to be pulling for him to escape from it.

The sexual exploitation of Pet is something I'm still working through. Luke sees Pet having sex with men as exactly the same as his work in the mine, what each of them has to do to stay alive one day longer.

I also would like to have it clear that this is a society that exploits the powerless, because by book's end, I want Luke to agree to join Jon in the good fight against the mining industry, and Rachel to commit to working towards educating the children who have no advantages. I plan for Hannah to articulate that her arranged marriage is just as exploitative (as of the moment, she's supposed to marry a young man, gets to his home, finds out he's died and it's been rearranged that she's to marry his father instead).

Also, I really want a connection between Ethan and Pet. One of the things I'm currently planning is Ethan's staying in the west to look for Pet. Luke, up until then, has had no respect for Ethan, but Ethan, by not crossing the river, is putting his own life at risk, and that's an eyeopener for Luke.

On the other hand, there's that keep the sex out of the classroom issue. So it might end up with Ethan casting wistful looks at the unavailable Pet.

Tomorrow I do my volunteer work, deal with another mother issue, and meet up with a friend. Thursday, though, I return to spring cleaning (den, hallways, and staircase for Thursday, living room, dining area and kitchen for Friday), and I anticipate doing a lot more work then. I'll keep the need to keep Luke sympathetic without having James Dean around to play the part, in mind while I mop and dust and vacuum.