White Night by Jim Butcher (Flash Impression)

Happy Saturday!

white night

Summary

Welcome back, everyone! One thing I’ve learned from reading this dynamic urban fantasy series is that it has much in common with Fussili noodles seeing as it is constantly twisting and can fit into a multitude of categories (fussili can be used with

fussili

See? Fussili is fundamental to everything.

thick or thin sauces, it can be used in soups, salads, and casseroles similar to how the Dresden files spans genres from romance, comedy, epic high fantasy, low gritty urban fantasy, detective who-dun-it, and action/thriller, and at least in Skin Game (book 15) an Ocean’s 11-style heist).  This being said, I shouldn’t have been surprised when Butcher flipped a bitch in this book’s story format from the established A, B, C story where A story is something that forwards a meta-plot spanning many books and was somewhat self contained whilst the B and C stories were seemingly separate would weave together somewhere mid-narrative and help build up to the books second and ultimate climax(1).

In White Night we discover that someone is targeting magical practitioners (who turns out to be Grey Cloak [sort of] linking the A and C stories) and then we find out that Thomas is suspected to be working with Grey Cloak and/or is the one targeting practitioners, in Chicago at least, (linking A, B, and C) and then we find out that Grey Cloak is Vittorio Malvora [a member from one of the other White Court families] at the climax.  

Now that I’m looking back at meta trends in the series, I can see that the ABC structure has been shifting since book five but I didn’t notice it until just now:

-The A Story of Death Masks gives the White Council/Red Court war a mini-climax

-The A Story of Blood Rites (“A wild Black Court Vampire appears!”) made a call back to the events of Grave Peril where Dresden makes a personal enemy of Mavra, a Black Court vampire

-The A Story of Dead Beat forwards the Black Court story with Mavera sending Dresden in search of “The Word” but this plot is directly tied with the B story (regarding the Necromancers)

-Then the A and B Stories of Proven Guilty lay the groundwork for new meta-stories from unknown players (The Black Council, the first appearance of outsiders since the end of Blood Rites, and whomever the phobophages are/are working with/working for)

So what’s unique in this book is three stories affect the the final outcome of this book and that outcome reveals that Cowl has a direct connection with House Malvora (Vittorio Malvora aka “grey cloak”) of the White Court which is a link back to Dead Beat AND Proven Guilty effectively making this the first book in the series to serve exclusively the meta-story.  

A story: Who is killing magic practitioners around Chicago and why?

B story: Why is Thomas being scene with many of the targets of the serial killer?

C story: Who is “Grey cloak”?

Thoughts

  • I have a very minor pet-theory: is Ramirez in the black council? Dresden uses the word “cronies” to refer to Ramirez’s subordinates, deaths happen in 5 cities, 4 of which were in Ramirez’s region and Ramirez is least bothered member of the Council about Dresden’s use of Necromancy, which didn’t violate The Laws of Magic but only on a technicality.  I’m sure I could scrape up some more evidence if I wanted (such as Ramirez was present at Camp Kaboom when it’s attacked by the Ghouls, and Ramirez is the only other White Council wizard that has talked to Dresden outright about his “theory” about a Black Court, etc) but it’s a half baked idea. I’d have to do more re-reading/research which probably won’t happen before Butcher finishes the series.
  • Speaking of Camp Kaboom, Dresden has been getting more violent as the series progresses and he wen’t to like “Holy Shit” level on those Ghouls which is an interesting detail because we’re seeing where Dresden’s humanity lines lie and what he’s capable of doing
  • Finding out that the girl Marcone visits in the hospital at the end of Death Masks is the daughter of his Secretary/Lover(?) makes for a deeply intriguing sub-plot between Marcone and Hellen: Marcone doesn’t know that Hellen knows that Marcone is inadvertently responsible for killing her daughter nor does Hellen know why Marcone hasn’t told her about why he keeps it a secret.  
  • Lasciel’s Shadow deconstructs herself to save Dresden from Grey Cloak’s psychic attack (an act of altruism something she professed not to be capable of since she is not a person and only people change) and then promptly is not seen/heard from again in the series (up to Changes at least, which is the book I’m on as of writing this 22 Sept 2018)
  • Speaking of Lasciel (or “Las”), she’s apart of a group of entities that Dresden has named including Bob the Skull, Ivy, and Demonreach (next book, Small Favour) which is interesting but I don’t have enough material at this point in the series (White Night) to talk about further

Miscellaneous Thoughts

  • Lasciel tells Dresden that the cosmic alignment at the time of his birth gives him the potential to have control over outsiders?!?!
  • Thomas opens a boutique posing as a gay Frenchman to feed ethically which is really funny and interesting
  • Dresden has mentioned having a headache for a couple of books now and that’s odd since his injuries, sans the hand, always heal in between the events of each book and I’m interested to see what that pans out to be
  • Bob mentions that there was a flaw in Dresden’s model of Chicago, which causes it to fail early in the book, but is “mysteriously fixed” by the end of the book however neither Bob nor Dresden know who did it or when

Conclusion

White Night was a real change of pace for this series on multiple levels from story structure to content of the story itself.  It felt rather intimate in that it primarily explores relationships: Dresden and Thomas,the relationships between the Houses in the White Court, the still somewhat ambiguous relationship between the Vampire Courts, and the Fairy Courts’ role in the bigger picture with regard to the shifting scale of cosmic balance.  This book being so heavy on plot building, I have trouble picking it out in my mind from others because it doesn’t have a semi-self contained story like all the books before it did which also made it a bit difficult to write about. However overall it was a great pallet refresher between the high intensity of the last few books and the events of the next book.  

 

Stay tuned next week when I cover Small Favor ie “Dresden v Nicodemus: Round II”

-fin

Footnotes:

  1. An example that comes to mind specifically is Death Masks where the A story was kicked off with Ortega confronting Dresden in chapter 1 and their A story climaxes with the duel at Wriggly field which precedes the final battle with Nicodemus on the train which wrapped up the B story (being Dresden being hired by the “Vatican” to find the death mask) and the C story (how were these people showing up at the morgue whom had seemingly died of every human illness at the same time) which being the chronologically final climax of the book was appropriately more epic in both scale and scope relative to the individual book.  

 

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Zombie Road (Urban Legends #1)

I just finished binge watching the first season of the Netflix original Stranger Things (SPOILER ALERT: It’s fantastic however unless your further out of the loop than I am, like the Zombie Road area(1), you’ve probably already seen it and are thinking “My carby goodness(2), Fin. How are you so behind?”) and it got me thinking about my own encounters with the paranormal and ask most St Lousians about the subject and they’re likely to mention either Lemp Mansion (another story, for another time) or Zombie Road.

The infamous Zombie Road (formerly the Lawl Ford Road, now apart of the Al Foster Trail) has gotten notoriety since the 50’s as a “creepy little hang out in the woods” however there’s a lot of good reasons why the little road is creepy as hell at night.  One being that there is like no light back there.  On a full moon night, you might be able to see the shadow of the tree line which is cool as all get out since light pollution is making it increasingly hard to find places where one can really understand palpable darkness, since experiencing darkness that thick I can appreciate a healthy fear of the dark.   Another reason the place gives me the fantods is all the death.  There have been several recorded incidents of suicide, people being run down by trains, people falling in the river, and one particularly strange incident in the 70’s where a teenager boy lost his footing and got caught on a fork shaped branch on his fall to his demise.  The forked branch managed to rip his face and scalp off leaving behind a grotesque mask.  Top it all off, there are stories about run away mental patients, dead barge works roaming as zombies, sightings of human shadows in the woods, vengeful Native American spirits (it’s believed to originally be a trail used by Native American peoples and when the Pacific Railroad company came through it likely didn’t end well for the Natives).

Naturally, being an (increasingly) rebellious boy and growing up in the dreadfully dull West County (much of it is the picture of suburbia) there wasn’t much to do OTHER than investigate places like Zombie road.  However, now it’s gotten much riskier with the cops issuing up to 1,000$ trespassing tickets now. I guess kids have Pokemon Go now, but think of all the Ghost type Pokemon you could capture down there!  Anyway, one night me and a friend decided to go explore and see for ourselves what Zombie Road had to offer.

I don’t remember much now, ten years later, but I do remember getting down there and walking for a good 20 minutes not really hearing anything or feeling anything unusual until we decided to leave.  As soon as I said, “Man, this is kind of lame.  Lets go.”  both my friend and I heard a deep WHOMP.  Similar to the sound of a grocery bag full of ground red meat and water exploding on the ground.  This got our attention.  So we decided to continue further down and we heard an extremely loud/deep hammering into the ground.  As if someone was repeatedly dropping a giant tamper and the sound was getting closer.  We kind of got wigged out by this point and decided to make our way out when I was assaulted by what I can only assume was a bat in the face.

baseball bat

Not a bat.

bat man

Not the bat.

bat

A bat.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve pissed my pants literally, sober and intoxicated, many times in my adult life.  This wasn’t one of the incidents, but it’s an honourable mention.  After that was a blur of running through the pitch black back to the car.  That was the last time I went to Zombie Road, day or night.

Have any good Urban Legend experiences to share? Feel free to leave a comment below explaining your encounter with the esoteric.

 

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Footnotes:

  1. This is a really bad local-vernacular based joke, “the loop” generally refers to a trendy St Louis attraction The Delmar Loop and I live, currently (I move a lot, on average 1.1 moves per year), in the Webster Groves area and further “out of the loop” would be Zombie Road aka the Al Foster Trail all the way out in Wildwood which is in the dreadful West County area.
  2. Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM)

Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger

salinger bojak

First order of business, I must apologize.  I got over ambitious (a common theme in my plan making process) and about 2 months before going live with this blog and about a month before finishing Infinite Jest I thought “I believe I will write a 5 part literary analysis of Infinite Jest as my first article series”.  Such a nice thought.  However after finishing the book two weeks ago, I’ve been left…stunned and a little disturbed.  Infinite Jest is a big story.  There’s nothing small about it.  The story is so big even DFW admits “the story can’t fully be made sense of” and “does resolve, but it resolves… outside of the right frame of the picture. You can get a pretty good idea, I think, of what happens” which even if you believe the author is dead(1) (too soon?) this is still extremely intimidating.  These intimidation factors aside, there are plenty and plenty of reviews written by people who are actually read(2) regularly and to top it there are books and books on analysis written on this book.  This being said, I’m going to step back and take some time since there’s not much likely I’m going to write that hasn’t been thought-said-written several times over.  So there’s no agenda on when, basically just when I have time and interest (I’ve already began re reading the book) and I’ll try to do something special to make my predictably unoriginal ideas more worth experiencing.

…and now for something completely different.

Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger

Nine Stories is a collection of short stories (SPOILER ALERT: There’s nine of the stories) by, the generally hated by high school students because Catcher in the Rye (I liked it then and now but I’ve always been kinda odd in my age group), J.D. Salinger.  Salinger opens up with a rather famous koan “We know the sound of two hands clapping. But what is the sound of one hand clapping?”  Each story sets up a relatively domestic scene: A beach vacation, a couple of girl friends enjoying an afternoon drink, a friend calling for some emotional support, just to juxtapose that with a startling ending.  Some endings are disturbing, some are strange.

Overall the book can be read in an afternoon however as is the genius of a good short story is that there is much more to the story than just a shocking ending.  Each story captures small moments artfully and depict characters much bigger than can fit on a few pages but if extrapolated further may loose some of their significance.

This was my first Salinger book since Catcher and I deeply enjoyed it and look forward to rereading it.

Nine Stories gets 4 power crazy celebrity game show executive producer J.D. Salingers out of 5.

salinger bojak 1

Footnotes & Errata:

  1. The French essay “The Death of the Author” by Roland Barthes, not to be confused with the conspiracy that DFW is still alive writing under a new nom de guerre in order to escape the weight of IJ.
  2. I do recognize the few (it might actually be only three of you atm) of you who do read my stuff and FSM bless you and I love you and please keep reading. Thank you!

Images from Bojack Horseman Season 2 Episode 10 “Yes and”