Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I Read Somewhere ...

Ah, summer reading. Beach books. The Shur, as they say in Jersey. And another thriller by Steven King.

No, I don't read Steven King. But I do my share of library visits. I take out six books and like two. Or fewer.

Ahoy the cliché frigate! Avast ye copycats! Raise The Sameness Ensign!

In every Western, there's a guy named Kincaid. And a dusty courtesan in a musty saloon, dying to quit the life and get back East to her ailing aunt.

Bathrooms are not for evacuation, only quick showers (and possibly couples' water sports).

Every British spy belongs to a posh private club, where he meets with his graying, astute handler over sole fillets or kidney pie. The spy's wife was murdered by terrorists, but he has a beyond-cute toddler. In steps a nanny to watch the kid. Then the spy falls in love with nanny and has some Sealy Calisthenics with her before he heads off on his perilous mission. Every person in such books is rich, even The Bad Guys.

Among cops, there is always one fat Irish guy who is afraid of action. He sits at a desk and swills Jameson all day from a bottle he pulls out of a drawer.

Action heroes do not eat.

Only women strip to the buff and peruse themselves in full-length mirrors. This usually ends with a "I'm not so bad for forty" line.

Every American cloak-and-dagger dude either works for—or is pursued by—a super-secret organization with a cloudy name such as The Group. This cadre has headquarters hidden in the bowels of a building. Or the earth. Not even the president knows about them, but they always have a ton of money and unlimited resources.

The first two paragraphs of every book are filled with fancypants language. E.g., "Ominous clouds scudded over the inky ocean." Then these contrivances vanish.

Whenever a man cooks, he is grilling a steak.

Often, a waifish woman appears. It is not evident whose side she is on, but she needs The Good Guy to shield/hide her. He takes her under his wing, but she always impedes his Good Guy derring-do. She eventually saves his bacon and they finally engage in some canoodling of a quick, unemotional manner. He leaves her at the end. His job is too dangerous.

Every male lawyer is unkempt and disorganized. The chair next to him is filled by a younger woman who does all the dirty work so that the guy can eviscerate the key witness. She is from a well-off family and broke their hearts when she quit her prestigious job at a well-heeled firm to take up with The Hero. She is overworked and underpaid, but knows she is doing The Right Thing. If the pair hook up, it is brief, and both deem it a mistake.

Add lawyers: In the early goings-on of every trial, the Hero Defense Attorney realizes his case is worth shit. The snotty D. A, pokes fun at him, telling him his case is worth shit. Then the same female assistant finds a surprise witness, and the tide turns. In the end the D. A. doesn't just lose; he is humiliated.

Every high school teacher is a woman who never marries, but was engaged to Doug, who was killed in a war. She ages, becomes dowdy, and her students love her.

If there is a woman cop, she is loathed by all the men in the precinct. She eventually kicks the shit out of a bad guy to prove herself, and the wise-cracking men now admire her.

No villainess is ever blonde. She is a sexy, leggy, dark woman who may bed The Hero before she tries to kill him. She has only one name, usually Vesta.

No one eats hot dogs. Or takes out the garbage. Or has diarrhea, acne or lice.

At the violent climax of an action book, the police always show up too late. Even though Bad People have been massacred and property destroyed, the whole shebang is sorted in a jiffy. No charges are filed, and the book ends with The Hero's arm in a sling as he plots his next caper.

It's still okay to have an Asian villain. His name is Wang. He has amassed scads of Bag Guys and ill-gotten wealth, but The Hero and six other allies take out the entire fortress of evil.

As the highly paid assassin—who is an ex-military sharpshooter gone rogue—is about to the pull the trigger and dispatch a Kashgiristani pacifist clad in robes, a car or other impediment gets in the way. Every one of these gunslingers is mentally unstable and never goes to trial but is killed by Good People.

Pre-teens—a boy and a girl spending a summer together—can't stand each other. They will eventually kiss once.

People who have been shot or stabbed can miraculously diagnose their own condition. "You guys go ahead. I'm not gonna make it, Charlie. Give this letter to Vicky."

Novelists who shy away from graphic Naughty Bits will put a couple in the percale right near the end of chapter. There will be one kiss and then the pair fall into an "eddying whirlpool of delight." Here, the chapter ends.

As does my blog. I have to go put my arm in a sling and get nursed back to health by a reasonably starched nurse named Jillian.

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