Before we begin, I thought I should mention that when I took my hiatus to tech a show, it’s a show directed by someone who actually did work for Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.
And I wear show blacks. Although, technically they’re just black leggings and a black dress because I’m a dresser and not climbing up scaffolding or anything like that.
Still, I thought you would all appreciate that.
Also, for our next selection, it’s gonna be a book about a writer who wins the lottery.
Heads up, there’s a racial slur in this recap and an examination of why Sarem feels she’s special and gets to use it.
The chapter opens with Zade walking down a hall at the theater.
Zeb caught me in the hall and put his hand up against the wall, creating an obstruction and keeping me from passing. He just stood there, staring into my eyes like I had lasers coming out of them or something.
Why would he stare directly into lasers?
“You aren’t ready for this; you should have been more prepared.”
I didn’t know what he meant and wasn’t sure how to respond, but had been really frustarted with how little he seemed to like me and how cold he was. I ignored his comments and went straight to the heart of what I had wanted to ask him ever since I had met him. “Why don’t you like me?”
This section really strikes at the heart of what makes this book boring and uninteresting. The author is more concerned with everyone loving the heroine, and that bleeds into the heroine being so self-absorbed that when an odd, standoffish character delivers a dire warning, she blows right past it. Instead of, “What are you talking about?” or “More prepared for what?”, the questions that would naturally follow, she jumps to, “Why don’t you like me?” And it’s a question she’s wanted to ask since they met. Meaning she is bewildered by the fact that this person did not like her on sight and did not react to her with the deference and enthusiasm she requires.
Zeb looked confused. “I never said I didn’t.”
Zeb is like, wait, did we jump ahead in the script? That doesn’t really follow my line.
“Some things don’t have to be said. You certainly act like you don’t.”
Zeb looked frustrated. “I just don’t think you take our craft seriously. I take it very seriously. You need to try harder. Really important things are at stake.”
What on earth is prompting this scene? The fact that she just spent her days off rehearsing a new illusion? The fact that all she really ever does is work? There’s no reason for this confrontation because there’s no evidence of any of this. If we’d had some scene where Zeb saw her goofing off with Jackson or something like that and then this happened, we could be like, “Okay, he only saw that one incident and he already didn’t like her, this makes sense.” Instead, it’s like out of the blue, aggressive, impeding her progress down a hallway by physically blocking and intimidating her. It makes absolutely no sense for things to have escalated to this point with a character we rarely see, especially with no inciting incident.
Zode asks if Zeb will help her…I don’t know. Try harder? Take the craft seriously? Is that something you can teach?
I had learned that when someone has an issue with the way you do something, asking them to help teach you what you’re missing is the fastest way to get them to feel better about it.
Just pretend you’re interested in improving yourself and your skills. That’ll get people off your back without you having to do anything.
Zeb contemplated my question before he replied. “Maybe. I’ll think about it. If I see real effort from you, I’ll consider it.”
Real effort like coming in on her days off to work extra? This conversation doesn’t make sense since we’ve been told over and over again how much Zide Lod works and how dedicated she is to her craft. Plus, what is he going to help her with? Like I said above, it’s not like he can help her be more serious or try harder. Those things are totally out of his control. There was no specific grievance here.
Zeb leaves and the interaction ends. Now, it might be pointless. It’s a real dice roll with any of the scenes in this book as to whether they’ll come up later. But if it isn’t pointless and this scene does come up later, it’s going to be in such a way that we’re going to look back and go, “Wow, that was an incredibly clumsy and obvious setup, considering there was no reason for that scene in the first place.”
I was tired and in thought over my odd interaction with Zeb, which caused me to walk very slowly–so slowly in fact that had I been walking any slower I’d just not have been moving at all.
Zani can’t think and walk at the same time. That checks out.
She hears someone singing in the wardrobe room:
I couldn’t quite recognize the voice, but knew it sounded familiar. It sounded like she was singing along to the radio and she sounded better than the artist actually singing it. I stopped short of entering the room and snuck just enough of a glance to see who had the amazing pipes.
You’re not going to believe who it is.
Okay, you’re going to guess who it is, because there’s really only one named female character in the book we’ve seen or thought about in chapters.
Sofia was the only one in the room. She was half dressed, with her back to the door, and was singing her heart out, apparently while waiting on one of the wardrobe girls to return with her costume. I waited for her to finish the song; she sounded so good that I really just wanted to hear her sing.
A lot about this book has surprised me, but this absolutely flattens me. Is this praise for Sofia? Really?
My first thought was to turn around and walk away, but after my confrontation with Zeb, something stronger in me just wanted to talk to her.
Wait… is Zimba into Sofia? Because it sounds kind of like she might be.
“Wow, Sofie. I didn’t know you could sing.” I made my sure my comment sounded as sincere as I could; I didn’t want her to think for even a second that I was being saracastic.
Why would she ever think that?
Sofia tells Zirt that there are lots of things she can do that Zart doesn’t know about.
I thought about snapping back at her, and a few really great replies popped into my head.
I can assure you that they were not great.
I quickly pushed out those clever-but-mean thoughts and chose to be the bigger person.
God, it’s like the author is retroactively passive-aggressively scolding me through the pages she’d already written.
“I don’t doubt that at all. I can tell how talented you are.” I smiled. I decided that I was not stooping to her level, no matter what she said to me.
Yeah, be a good person out of spite! That’ll get you places!
Lack Zattack asks Sofia why she hates her so much.
“I don’t hate you. I just believe that people shoud pay their dues. I had to, yet you walked in and were treated like you owned the place.”
Wow, I’m suddenly #TeamSofia.
“Sofie, believe it or not, I have paid my dues. Truly I have.” I spoke calmly and never broke eye contact with her, pleading for her to understand.
To understand what? How you paid your dues by driving to the theater? Because you literally walked in, got the job, became the star of the thing without any other exposition but you’re on the billboard for some reason, you get showered with thousands of dollars of free shit by the production just because you want it…yeah, girl. You really paid your dues.
Sofia does not accept this bullshirt, either:
“Maybe somewhere else, but not around here. Doesn’t count if it was in Tennessee.” She shook her head as she spoke and pressed her lips together in discontent. “Playing some backwoods jester for Dolly Parton doesn’t count.”
I mean, working with Dolly Parton would be a big career high for anyone, I’m sure, but I’m thinking she’s insinuating that Zelta Lurke worked at Dollywood.
I nodded and fidgeted with my hands as I apologized to her. “I’m sorry you feel that way, and I’m sorry if you feel like I’ve been given anything at all that should have gone to you.”
Like, twelve-thousand dollars worth of cosmetics, for example.
Here’s the thing: it’s entirely possible to object to the undeserved success of another person but also feel that nothing has been taken from you, specifically. For example, I don’t feel anything was taken from myself or other authors because Fifty Shades Of Grey got published, but I’m still chafed over the fact that its success was overwhelmingly unearned through talent and craft and was credited with creating a subgenre that was created by other people a decade before. Sofia’s resentment makes perfect sense. Her dance illusion was cut, but Charles said he would add a new illusion for her. So, she didn’t really lose anything by Laffy Zaffy being there. Sofia just resents the fact that someone else got to where she did or higher without having to do even a fraction of the work it took to get there.
The fact that this conversation is happening in this book, of all places, stuns me. This is exactly why so many people were furious with Lani Sarem’s scam. She didn’t pay her dues and expected to walk in, walk over other people who had worked much harder than she has to get what she feels she deserves without any effort. Yet, she was somehow aware of how this makes people feel, or at least, aware enough on some level to write this. Maybe it was her subconscious trying to signal her conscious mind and warn her away from her own shenanigans. Since she clearly never re-read this book to edit it for content, it was easy for her to miss.
Zub asks if Sofia has ever thought about singing in the show, and she says, of course, she would, but she wants to know why Zude asked.
I had realized in the brief moments of our conversation that I truly wanted things to be okay between us. I understood where she was coming from and–even though she had never been fair to me–in a lot of ways, I still saw that she just didn’t want to be replaced.
Did…did someone else write this? Because even though it’s coming off as very “look at me, I’m being the bigger person here and I genuinely want to be friends with a girl despite the fact that I’ve made it clear I find girls universally silly and horrible,” it’s still a shocking scene. Zamp is wanting to be friendly and understanding of a human female? This is something I did not expect.
She wanted to still be treated like she was important and I finally got that, maybe just because I was actually listening to her for the first time.
Is this really…did our perfect nightmare of a Mary Sue actually acknowledge that she might have been doing something insensitive and wrong?
I don’t know how to handle any of this.
“Would you mind if I asked for you to sing something during the finale? The new illusion that Charlie and I are building, I would love to have–”
I’m not sure I can handle this, you guys. I feel like I need to lie down.
I watched Sofia’s eyes bulge and her jaw drop.
I can’t handle this. Is this what being “shook” is? I see people say they’re “shook” or other people are “shook” but I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that approximate emotion. Something altering your perception so much that you feel obliged to spin a top like in that movie I’ve never seen because it looks like I’m not smart enough to watch it? What’s the deal here? Why is Zani being so nice to another woman?
Turns out, that’s not what Sofia is shocked about. She’s like, did you call him Charlie and Zinnibon is like, yeah, what’s the big deal?
“I did that once and he bit my head off.” She shrugged and the right side of her lip pulled up slightly as she raised her eyebrows. “And I was on top of him at the time.”
IDK, that’s not the best time to try out a nickname on someone, Sofia.
I nodded my head slowly as I procssed what she had said and its full meaning. It was almost like in a cartoon where a light bulb goes off over the head of someone. My own eyes bulge and it felt like they had popped out of my head.
Did someone open an airlock or something?
“Oh!” I blurted out again much more loudly before starting to laugh nervously.
“Much more loudly” is “much louder.”
I’m sure I turned every shade of red as Sofia grinned at me, obviously amused by how uncomfortable her comment had made me.
Sofiaeaeaeae needs to be more careful of Liet Zoke’s puritan sensibilities. You know. The protagonist who’s been dating and making out with two different guys for apparently weeks now but is as pure as the driven snow. Not that there’s a damn thing wrong with that, make out with and date as many people as you want. I write stories about people getting fingered by strangers and shit like that. But the idea that Lilly Zane is so damn naive about sex that it takes her time to process Sofia’s comment as being about sex is just ridiculous.
“Maybe he didn’t want me to because of what we were in the middle of; it’s not as manly.” Sofia pressed her lips together and smiled in an apparent attempt to be friendly.
She just shared something super personal with you about how you get away with saying things to her boyfriend that she doesn’t. Pretty sure she’s being friendly.
We need to really get how virginal and pure and not-a-slut-like-Sofia Litch is:
I could still feel the heat of my cheeks being red and my eyes darted all around the room for something to look at–anywhere but directly making eye contact with her. Her comment had caught me off guard, not to mention I just wasn’t used to talking about intimate moments with anyone, theirs or mine. In the south, women are still taught not to talk about such things.
In the everywhere women are taught not to talk about sex. That’s why the Sexual Revolution was so radical. But from now on, I’d like to style myself “The Whore In The North,” since apparently, only genteel southern belles have any sort of purity.
PS. You can’t feel the color red unless you have synesthesia.
Ligit Zardot asks Sofia again if she’ll sing during the finale and tells her she loves her voice.
“Well, I wouldn’t be opposed to it.” It was a calm answer. She spoke slowly and hesitantly, as if she was thinking it through completely. I think she was concerned it was some kind of trick.
IDK why she would think that, what with you running around telling everyone she attacked you for saving her life, an event which did not happen.
A wardrobe girl comes in and helps Sofia into her costume.
She looked beautiful and I couldn’t help but stare. Sofia turned directly to a mirror and pulled her fingers through her hair on the right side. She altered the way her curls lay across the side of her face just ever so slightly, nodding to herself as if she was giving her own approval of how she looked. She smoothed down the material that hugged her hips and gave herself one last look before turning to me.
“Zade? You should probably get dressed don’t you think? You need to be at top of show in five minutes.”
First of all, we just got more description of how gorgeous Sofia is than we’ve ever gotten of Jackson. In fact, the whole conversation with Sofia lasted longer than any conversation we’ve seen with Jackson. I think this paragraph was written with the intention of reminding us that Sofia is still evil because she likes the way she looks, but it really just comes off as Lazi being super attracted to Sofia.
The whole time we had been talking I should have been getting dressed but I was so caught up in the conversation that I had completely lost track of the time.
Second, I know that Lani Sarem is a former Olympian and an actual Las Vegas performer in a show just like this one, but you can’t, I mean, you absolutely, one hundred percent can. not. get ready for a show with five minutes to places. Do you know how often I have that nightmare? And I just do community theater. It would be one thing to go, “Oh, Zipper is magik, so she’s going to just snap her fingers and be totally ready,” but we rarely see her use her mahjihk when it would really help her out. The tent is the only thing I can think of. Here, she panics and runs off, but we don’t ever see a mention of her using her majick to get ready, or her panic being a cover for the fact that she’s going to use her powers to help herself out. The author seems to forget for long stretches of time that Zooboomafoo is a witch and could make her life easier with no trouble.
We jump forward in time to after the show, and Zupa Loscana and Mac are walking in a park. A guy comes up to show them a card trick and Mac tells the guy Zoofa isn’t allowed to magic. Which makes me wonder if this is a reference to performers not being allowed to do magic outside the show, which would make perfect sense to me, actually. Kind of like actors who play James Bond not being allowed to wear tuxedos in other movies. But it’s never explained and they just go on with their walk.
Mac was sill in his show blacks. I’m not sure if he wore them out of ease, or whether he knew that I felt for show blacks the way most women feel about men in firefighting uniforms.
I’m shocked that she didn’t once again explain what show blacks are, but I cannot jump aboard the “show blacks are hot” train when she’s already described them as being Dickies with extra pockets. I just don’t find Dickies to be all that flattering. Your mileage may vary.
“How do you know I’m not allowed to do magic?” I said, jokingly. “You don’t know that. There are a lot of things you don’t know about me.”
Oh, btw, they’re laying on the grass during this scene. In case it comes up in something I excerpt and you’re like, “Why are they horizontal?”
Anyway, how is it that we’re constantly being told of these long, deep conversations they’ve been having for weeks, but he doesn’t know basic stuff about her?
“Anything. Everything. I want to know your past. I want to know everything you’re willing to tell me,” he explained in a passionate way that felt very romantic.
That’s a tell-don’t-show straight out of the E.L. James playbook if I’ve ever seen one.
I wanted to tell him my deep dark secrets but I couldn’t. It made me sad that I couldn’t open up and show him my world. I tried to think of something I could tell him but nothing was really coming to mind. There had to be some interesting stories that didn’t involve magick but in that exact moment those were the only stories I could think of.
So, in that exact moment, the only stories you could think of were the ones that didn’t involve magick. That’s what you’re saying.
I hesitated. “There isn’t much to tell, really. I grew up in a little town in Tennessee called Centertown, with my mom. My mom’s parents were actual Gypsies. […]”
In the comments of a past recap, someone pointed out (rightly) that questioning a person’s heritage with percents, etc. is wrong. So, I’m going to try to phrase all of this as carefully as I can. It’s absolutely within the rights of a person with the actual heritage to use the g-word, even if it’s a slur. It’s also absolutely within the rights of a person who shares that heritage to question the use of the word by people within their community. As a person who does not share that heritage, it’s not up to me say whether or not Lani Sarem should or should not use the word if she is Romani herself.
People who are Romani have pointed out that at no time has Sarem claimed to have Romani heritage. Not even to the people who’ve taken her to task for using the g-word in her Twitter handle. And while it’s nobody’s business what another person’s genetic and ancestral makeup is, if you’re part of a community that is coming forward and saying, “This is harmful for you to be doing if you’re not one of us,” why on earth would you not alleviate that harm and hurt that you’re causing by saying, “I am, in fact, one of you?”
Another huge red flag here is the fact that she describes herself as having a “[g-word] soul.” This is a phrase common among non-Romani people when describing their Bohemian aesthetic of velvet shawls and broomstick skirts and ankle bells. It’s right up there with “Native spirit” for people who aren’t members of a marginalized group to steep themselves in the “exotic” and stereotypical visual trappings and knee-deep spiritual “traditions” of a culture they do not belong to (and from which many of those trappings and traditions did not actually originate).
The most damning evidence against Sarem here is her response to a Twitter call out:
Have you ever actually asked someone who is #Romani if they think it is one? Cause I have and it only bothers them when you use it to describe someone who lies and cheats! Do you ask #JasonMomoa the same question his insta is #prideofthegypsies
— Lani Sarem (@RockanRollGypsy) December 2, 2017
Not, “I’m actually Romani and I can use the word,” but “Have you ever actually asked someone who is,” and “them”. Obviously, these people she talked to are the spokespeople for the entire Romani diaspora, and she doesn’t consider herself one of “them.” Then she suggests that because someone else who isn’t Romani does it, that makes it okay.
In the rest of the thread, the defense she offers up is that the word is tattooed on her foot and also some Romani people have thanked her for the representation her book has given them. She has a lot to say about why she’s allowed to use the word but refuses to answer the two people in the thread who ask if she’s Romani, and has ignored Romani people who’ve asked the same question on other occasions. She does, however, favorite tweets from non-Romani people defending her right to use the word.
In other words, false claims of heritage are the line she won’t cross, but she still wants to use a racial slur freely.
Talking about my mom or my dad would be bad for obvious reasons. I played with the family necklace that hung around my neck. The ball and the stone inside were very important but I couldn’t even explain about that, either. I guess I had a panicked look on my face with the thoughts that had taken over me.
Back up. Does anyone remember this alleged necklace? Because I don’t remember it ever having been mentioned. I did a search and only found the word necklace twice in the entire novel. This is the first time it’s mentioned in this context, as an item Larvae is wearing. But it’s apparently a super magical and important item?
I’m also confused as to why not mentioning her father is a bad idea for an obvious reason. She’s already said she knows very little about him. So, does she know he’s Charlie Copperfield or not? What’s the “obviously” reason someone shouldn’t mention that they don’t have a dad? That’s such a super common thing.
“Look, I don’t mind telling you anything. Really. Maybe I just feel put on the spot. You usually get to know someone well over time, because things happen and they tell you things and eventually you just know it all.”
That’s true. Also, it’s been weeks. You’ve been dating for weeks and he doesn’t know anything about you. There’s no reason you have to be like, “MY MOM IS A WITCH AND I’M SO MAGICAL.” It would be easy as hell to just say, “I grew up in this small town and my mom works as a psychic and my dad wasn’t ever really in the picture.” If someone told me, “My mom works as a tarot card reader,” I’m not going to immediately jump to “Her mom is a witch and therefore she is hereditarily a witch and all her illusions in the show are real magic because she has powers.” I’m going to think, “Huh. That’s unconventional.” And then move along with my fucking life.
But no, it’s got to be so way more complicated than that or else the false tension will fall apart. Zarla goes on to explain to Mac in the most condescending way possible how conversations occur in the wild, and then he tickles her.
Finally he had to stop because he was holding my arms down and had somehow pinned my legs with his feet while his legs were straddling mine and he was hovered above me.
He was hovered above, huh? Read that sentence again. Then go to Sarem’s twitter and suck up all the glowing praise she RTs from readers who are worse at books than she is and all the times she insists that whoops, mistakes happen, but she rigorously edited this piece of shit.
Ha ha, just kidding. You’ll have an aneurysm.
Anyway, he kisses her and we cut away.
The next day, I had to go into the theater early to work on the new illusion. I had been there already for a few hours before I was able to take a lunch break. I had decided to walk across to the Fashion Show Mall and eat there since I had extra time compared to my usual break between shows. Since it was closer, I decided to walk out through the front of the theater instead of going out the back into the hallway, as I would have done if I had been going to the EDR.
Or, “The next day, I decided to eat at the mall since I had extra time for my break.” But why do that, when you could fill up an entire paragraph with needless details that do nothing to move the story ahead?
I was leaving the theater, completely engrossed in the music coming from my headphones, at the exact moment Jackson was entering with his head down, focused on his phone.
You can’t possibly know that Jackson entered with his head down, focused on his phone if you’re completely engrossed in something else. It’s called POV. You might want to try and research it before you write book two.
We collided, and for the second time I found myself having fallen on top of him.
Of course, you did. Why is it that every flimsy, undeveloped heroine is constantly falling down or walking straight into people? It’s like total self-absorption manifesting as an inner-ear disorder.
“We have got to stop meeting like this,” Jackson joked, smiling his movie star smile and laughing while he slowly and gently placed me back on my feet.
Between these two excerpts, there’s no mention of Jackson standing up. Just that he caught her and held her in his arms. So, did he fall down, or what? Or did she fall upwards and land on his head like the most boring and egotistical hat of all time?
I was so embarrassed that I had yet again crashed into him. He was going to start thinking I was doing it on purpose.
Like Jennifer Lawrence at any red carpet event.
I straightened myself and look around to see if I had dropped anything while I replied. “I’m not usually this clumsy, I swear.” I assured him with my syrupy southern drawn, which has varying degres of prominence in my speech. Sometimes it’s barely there but others–especially when I’m angry or embarrassed–it’s far stronger. “You’ll probably want to start calling me ‘The Hurricane.'”
“Aw shucks, I bet you want to give me a nickname now, huh?” *Bats eyes, produces a lace parasol out of nowhere like a real southern lady*
Jackson’s eyes twinkled
“Don’t threaten me with a good time,” he declared. “You can plow into me any time. You are my favorite hurricane.”
- Calling someone ‘The Hurricane’ counts as a good time to you?
- Plows are for snow.
- Hurricanes are rainy.
- Lani Sarem isn’t good at metaphors.
Jackson moved in a bit closer to me. I was now almost pushed up against the wall. Jackson pressed his left hand against the wall. He had me almost pinned and was looking right at me.
Are you sure he wasn’t almost looking right at you? And can you tell us exactly how the wall is involved in his looking at you?
But this almost romantic almost almost wall wall is interrupted by the arrival of a small child who wants Lani’s autograph:
She threw her arms arouund my neck. “I want to be you when I grow up.”
There are times when the self-aggrandizing fantasy of this book is so specific and pointed that I almost feel bad for Sarem.
It passes quickly.
When the kid leaves, Jackson asks Liver why she’s at the theater so early, and she tells him she’s been working on the new illusion.
“I don’t mind, really,” I clarified. “I like being here early. Keeps me focused.”
Jackson studied me. “You take your work really seriously. I like that about you.” He nodded.
So, you know in that earlier scene where Zeb tells Liaper Zag that she needs to take things more seriously? There’s not a point in that conversation where she asserts that she does take her work seriously, or where she even refutes that charge internally. She doesn’t think, “That’s not true, and a lot of people have said so,” or anything like that. But now, Jackson is saying it. Why? Because the reader needs to be reminded that a flaw someone pointed out about Zeaf Lile is not true. The chapter cannot end without someone coming to her aid and rescuing her from criticism.
“You know what they say? Surround yourself with people that take their work seriously, but not themselves.”
I have shocking news for you about your author, Lando.
I loved quotes and sayings. I had one for almost every situation and I could rattle them off all day. I guess it made me feel like I could always comment on something without sounding dumb.
It’s not working.
Of Jackson, Zert thinks:
Charm just flowed out of him the way most people sweat in the sun on a hot August day in Tennesee.
Ah, yes, nothing speaks to the brutal hotness of a dude than comparing his charm to excessive perspiration.
Obviously, this claim of Jackson’s alleged charm is backed up by evidence, right?
Of course not! Instead, we get a lesson in regional climate:
It got hot in Vegas, like 124 degrees hot, but it was a dry heat and let me tell you it was not as sweltering as a humid ninety degrees in Tennessee. You will sweat buckets without even lifting a finger the moment you step outside.
That’s nice information to have, I guess, but it doesn’t belong directly in the middle of a dialogue exchange that has nothing to do with the weather.
They go their separate ways, but:
Somehow I just knew that Jackson would still be standing there watching me walk away. I locked eyes with him. Most people probably would have been embarrassed to be caught like that but if he was he didn’t show it. He simply smiled and waved at me.
WTF did you expect him to do, whip his dick out and start tugging right there in the middle of the casino?
I then turned around and disappeared out of sight.
POV skew. You don’t know what he can and can’t see.
So, that was this chapter. Something kind of happened in it, at least.