Guilt By Association: Our Merry Band of Protesters demonstrates that they’re The World’s Most Naive Activists

Chapter Three | Main | Chapter Five — Welp, I made the mistake of trying to knock out a few days worth of posts in one day, and after taking a break to watch Agents of Shield (if you’re not watching it yet, seriously do, it’s getting really good), I decided to power on to chapter four. I now remember why livetweeting Anonymous Tip over the course of a few days was such a chore. Michael Farris’ writing style can best be described as, “trying to write a novel like it’s a legal brief.” The whole thing is stilted and not at all like people actually talk in real life. I’m pretty sure my middle school attempt at Hardy Boys fan fiction was more true to life, and that story included the Hardy Boys thinking someone was trying to sell them weed when they were really being offered “pizza hash,” a delicious pizza with a bunch of random toppings (I’m only just now realizing that sounds like excellent stoner food). Enough about my Hardy Boys fanfic though, on to the story. The first part of the chapter is rather dull, blah blah, detailed description of the outside of Creepy Colonel’s house, blah blah, Suzie likes to show up early for their pro-life meetings because she likes being in a real home instead of her heathen coed dorm, blah blah, Suzie is super polite, blah blah, I’m putting myself to sleep just typing it out. Also, college is the farthest away from home Suzie has ever been, even though it’s only 360 miles. Oh, and Shirley Alper rode there with Pastor Randy Wallace because she doesn’t like driving at night, apparently because she’s sixty-five going on ninety. I continue to hold fast to my assertion that Colonel Danners is creepy, he just[…]

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Guilt By Association: Volvo-driving Doctor Rhonda’s backstory

Chapter Two | Main | Chapter Four — Well kiddies, today we get to meet the Volvo-driving Dr. Rhonda Marsano, abortionist at the wordily named Whatcom Women’s Center For Choice. I can’t wait! Hmm, this doesn’t bode well for our Volvo-driving doctor, Farris is humanizing her. I mean, it could be possible that he suddenly learned how to write well-rounded characters instead of cookie cutter villains, but the first two chapters haven’t really supported that theory. However, killing her off in a fire as punishment for selling out and going to work at an abortion clinic sounds about right. We shall soon see. Anyway, Volvo-driving Dr. Rhonda grew up in a New York City bedroom community in New Jersey, to an NBC accountant father and part-time Rutgers librarian mother. Italian Catholics, because we’ve got to introduce tension and the idea that she should have known better. As I said though, it seems like Farris is trying to humanize her, so maybe this is just his attempt at sketching out backstory. Adding to the idea that we’re at least somewhat supposed to sympathize with Rhonda is the information that her father died during the last part of her senior year and her mother had to struggle to help her finish school. This part confuses me because her college should have been paid for through the end of the semester, it’s not like universities operate on the installment plan (as nice as that idea is). In any case, because of her father’s death, Rhonda isn’t going to be able to go to medical school. Again, I’m a bit confused, I know PHC doesn’t take federal monies, but doesn’t Farris know about student loans? It’s not like her parents would be able to finance med school on an accountant and a part-time librarian’s salary[…]

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Guilt By Association: Meeting the Merry Band of Protesters

Chapter One | Main | Chapter Three Before I delve into the next chapter, I wanted to go into something I left out of my review of chapter one. One of the most frustrating things about Michael Farris’ writing is his propensity to write scenes where we, the readers, are supposed to empathize with his characters, but that end up making you dislike them. The first time I attempted to read Anonymous Tip, while I was in college, I gave up when Saintly Mom Gwen was contemplating kidnapping her daughter out of foster care and fleeing to Canada. We were supposed to feel for her and her distress about losing custody of her child, but all I got from it was that she was unhinged and there was no way I could root for her. When I finally managed to read all the way through, I ended up hating Saintly Mom Gwen and her entire family and wishing CPS would just take the poor kid away permanently before her bio family traumatized her for life. The paragraph I excerpted from the first chapter of Guilt By Association is another example of Farris making me dislike characters we’re supposed to like. Handsy Sidewalk Counselor Ginny and Creepy Colonel Danners are introduced to us as they’re invading a young woman’s personal space, with Ginny initiating physical contact without consent and Danners looming over the whole scene as an intimidating presence. These are people we’re supposed to like, and by page two I already want to get as far away from them as I can. That’s compounded by the part I didn’t mention last chapter where Creepy Colonel Danners puts a fatherly hand on Handsy Sidewalk Counselor Ginny’s shoulder, because well, none of these people respect personal space. Not to mention that from my[…]

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