Honestly, if I could have somehow both seen the Butcher in the past 24 hours and hugged him for disappearing for 24 hours, I would have. I came home with Warren Ellis’s Gun Machine and ate leftover Chinese food and a hot fudge sundae and then just read the whole thing through. And saw not another human being. I did talk to my other brother for a half-hour or so, but that doesn’t really count as having to see another person, I don’t think.
My poor other brother–he really does know how to make women who won’t leave him alone hate him. The thing I’ve noticed about the people my brother hangs out with–both for better and for worse–is that there are no parents. I mean, people have kids. But you’ve never seen a larger group of people who have kids and yet don’t differentiate themselves from them. I mean, not in that they are too much their kids’ friends or that they think their kids’ accomplishments are theirs. I mean in that their kids are their peers. There’s no thought given to whether someone is too young to do something or not emotionally ready or needs adults to help them. Everyone is just in the same sink-or-swim boat of not really having anyone to help them. I mean capable of helping them.
I’m developing a theory that this is why certain women gravitate to my brother and them come to loathe him. He presents himself as one of them–someone who has no use for parents (both in the sense that his never did anything for him and that he doesn’t want to be one). But he actually has parents who are willing to pour a lot of help in his direction and in the direction of the women who get entangled with him. That’s got to be attractive.
But then I think they start to resent that he has parents but won’t really be one. And by now they or one of their female relatives has a kid with him. They’re doing what was done to them, but he… I think he comes across like an interloper, someone who wants all the good parts of their way of life but knows he’s got a fall-back in my parents if things really do go completely wrong. And they come to resent that–that he doesn’t have the same skin in the game, but still wants the benefits.
Anyway, that’s a long way of saying that I got to hear about how my sister-in-law is having a fight with my brother through her son. And how neither party seems concerned about what a terrible thing that is to do to your kid.
And so, Gun Machine. I didn’t like that it seemed like the detective knew the things that I, the reader, knew even though I, the reader, was also reading the killer’s parts and, presumably, the detective was not. And it was a little hard to believe that, in a city as large as New York, that some of the necessary coincidences could have really happened.
But, oh, my god, I loved it. I loved the history of it. I loved how the geography was interlaced with the history. I loved the bad guy’s living in both this Manhattan and the pre-white guy Manhattan. I loved the idea of there being all these different overlaying maps of the city that most people don’t even realize are there, let alone how they overlap. And I love the idea that you don’t even have to be aware of them unless you get tangled up in one.
This is something I want in my writing about Nashville, for my readers to feel like they’re getting tangled up in connections they hadn’t even known were there.