II. The Church of Vinyl
"Councilman, you made me realize, thank you, but me and Mr. Jones and Nat Jaffe and our kind of people, we already got a church of our own. You, too, seemed like at one time, up to not too long ago, a member in good standing. And that church is the church of vinyl.""...our kind of people..." - the most interesting line in the quote above. Knowing that Nat is white (finally, officially verified on page 189. Almost 200 freaking pages of confusion on the color of one character's skin) and Archy is black. Our kind of people - the kind that can't live without, can't express who they are without music. Color blind.
I found this section more tedious than the first. My expectation of diving into the conflict and actually getting to know and love the characters fell a little flat. It seemed to be just a continuation of Dream of Cream.
What irritates me the most is Chabon's circular approach to each piece of the story. He drops you in the middle of a situation, teasingly alludes to the point, taunts you with your lack of understanding for a while, before circling back to the beginning and affording the reader some clarity. This approach is not necessarily bad. It's more the abundance of it - the unceasing rhythm. It's like... when a writer doesn't vary their sentence structure and the prose becomes sing-songy and strange, too much of the same.
(By the way, you can join the rest of the read along discussion here, and if you're interested in pre-ordering this not yet released book, go here!)
Some Random Observations (Contains Spoilers!)
- When Nat admits to Archy that he always tacks on an extra thirty-seven minutes for all black people - I laughed so hard. I had a good friend in college, black, who - whenever we discussed what time we had to be at a party or a class, he would ask me, "Is that in CP time?"
- Why is Archy cheating such a non-issue? I know that, by the end of this section, he sort of gets his. But the actual act of him cheating is never addressed. And that bothers me. A lot.
- The insertion of Obama into the narrative was jarring and strange. It took me right out of the story. I was trying to figure out why. I mean, that's a pretty huge choice, to include a "historical" figure that is still in the process of making history. The only thing that I can think of is that - going with the obsolete American Dream theme of the first part - Obama represents the opposite of that? He says to Gwen, "I have seen a lot of people, met a lot of people. The lucky ones are the people like your husband there. The ones who find work that means something to them. That they can really put their heart into, however foolish it might look to other people." I know the point of his campaign was hope, but I kind of forgot how heavily he leaned on the rediscovery of every-man's dream.
- I very deeply related to Aviva in this line, "Only Aviva's long habit of taking the temperature of her own racism, of her biases and stereotypes..." I grew up in a town that was predominately white. And so, when I went to college and actually made friends of color, I was so conscious of my own racism. That is to say - I am not racist. So instead of acting negatively prejudiced, I had a tendency to show a prejudice in the opposite direction. Acting nicer. Giving more. Forever checking myself to make sure - this isn't racist, right? It wasn't until a friend pointed out that what I was doing was ridiculous that I learned to stop.
- I very much enjoyed the allusion to the 2001 monolith. This Dogpile Thang is something that must come to pass.
- Gibson Goode tells Archy, "I'm not in it for the money." Is that better or worse? To destroy something just because you can?