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View Full Version : Doesn't it snow in Chicago? (And other headscratchers)



Perks
04-02-2010, 09:10 PM
So, I've been reading a lot. Or a lot for me. I'm a slow reader, a savor-er.

I've been reading mostly recent fiction and I've enjoyed my selections with the same predictability of percentage as I've ever tallied, but in these last books I've read, there's almost always something glaringly weird in each story.

For instance, I'm reading right now, A Reliable Wife. So far, it's pretty good. But one of the main characters is freaked out by snow. She's traveled by train to Wisconsin, in the dead of winter, to fulfill a newspaper ad in search of a 'reliable wife'. This woman has an agenda and a past, but right now, the snow is really bothering her - the vast whiteness of it; the three solid days of it curtaining down. She goes on quite a lot about how alien the snow is. She's even gone so far as to order a pair of smoked glasses to shield her from the glare that's kept her indoors with the drapes drawn.

But. But, but, but... she's from Chicago.Doesn't it snow as a matter of course every winter in Chicago, too? I dunno. It just seems weird.

Then there was Dark Places. Two characters meet for the first time, a man and a woman who have communicated only by phone up to this point, and only in collaboration of a slightly seedy business proposition. She meets him at an iffy-ish tavern, where he has already ordered up a pitcher of beer. He's a bit odd, but not off-puttingly so - only slightly geeky in perhaps the way of an unflattering stereotype such as someone who spends a lot of time indoors collecting comic books or watching Star Trek would be. He's not an Igor.

Anyway, they've just met and he pours her a beer, but in his nerves, he goes too fast and runs up a big head of foam in the glass. So he swipes his finger down the side of his nose and "oil-flattens" the head on the beer.

1) Yuck.

2) I didn't know you could do that.

3) No one on planet Earth has ever "oil flattened" the head on a perfect stranger's beer. At least not right in from of them.

To top it off, the next line goes something like, "She wondered whether or not to drink it."

No she didn't. She may have wondered whether or not to dump it over his head, but I promise, it never occurred to her to drink it after some dude stirred a dose of his nose grease into it.

These are highly acclaimed books and it's a headscratcher, because my betas would never allow me to get away with stuff like this.

You guys run into any of this or am I being picky?

BenPanced
04-02-2010, 09:34 PM
For instance, I'm reading right now, A Reliable Wife. So far, it's pretty good. But one of the main characters is freaked out by snow. She's traveled by train to Wisconsin, in the dead of winter, to fulfill a newspaper ad in search of a 'reliable wife'. This woman has an agenda and a past, but right now, the snow is really bothering her - the vast whiteness of it; the three solid days of it curtaining down. She goes on quite a lot about how alien the snow is. She's even gone so far as to order a pair of smoked glasses to shield her from the glare that's kept her indoors with the drapes drawn.

But. But, but, but... she's from Chicago.Doesn't it snow as a matter of course every winter in Chicago, too? I dunno. It just seems weird.
I'm trying to figure it out, too. I'm originally from South Bend, Indiana, which is about two hours away from Chicago, so I can vouch for the snowiness of the area. I thought the author was trying to describe a phobia the character has, but if the snow's being described as unfamiliar and alien then, yeah, I'm lost.

scarletpeaches
04-02-2010, 09:35 PM
I live in Scotland. It snows a lot here.

But...nose-grease is a step too far madam.

Just keep your neti pot away from my beer, goddamn you to Hades!

jennontheisland
04-02-2010, 09:38 PM
Maybe snow in Chicago is the grey slushy city kind of snow, whereas in Wisconsin it's that vast uninterrupted expanse of white that blinds you.

Maryn
04-02-2010, 09:39 PM
That's two books I'd have stopped reading at the points mentioned. The authors obviously don't know any real human beings and have not researched them, either.

Without going into adult detail, I know every bit of Mr. Maryn quite well, but I would not drink a beer he'd oil-flattened for me. And the Chicagoan freaked by snow is such a big gaffe that I couldn't take anything else the author said seriously.

Maryn, demanding better

BenPanced
04-02-2010, 09:41 PM
Maybe snow in Chicago is the grey slushy city kind of snow, whereas in Wisconsin it's that vast uninterrupted expanse of white that blinds you.
There is that. The largest expanse of snow could possibly be along Lake Michigan's beachfront, whereas if she's traveling by train through Wisconsin, you'll see lots of wide-open fields. It's still not adding up that well; I'm trying 2+2 and getting 3.9.

Perks
04-02-2010, 09:42 PM
Lol! There are quite a few reasons to pause during the reading of Dark Places; many exclamations of WTF?!?!? But I didn't want to get too spoiler-y.

The nose-grease was really weird, as were the lines -


His irises rolled on their yellow orbs like fish on the surface of a bad lake.


[mother is looking on in horror at finding some evidence that seems to supports the authorities' assertion that her son is a child molester]... as if a vein from her throat to her groin had gone sour.

The book's archived on my eReader, but that's very close to what was written. Hmmmm.

Perks
04-02-2010, 09:44 PM
Maybe snow in Chicago is the grey slushy city kind of snow, whereas in Wisconsin it's that vast uninterrupted expanse of white that blinds you.Yeah, I'm going with that so I can continue.

Stlight
04-03-2010, 08:53 AM
Gack! just gack!

kaitie
04-03-2010, 09:29 AM
Okay, first thought eeeeeew. And again, EEEEW.

Probably the best example I have was a Mary Higgins Clark book (don't recall which one, and I haven't read it in fifteen years probably) in which the main character, a "tough" "strong" chick, got caught by the bad guy and had to be rescued. That frustrated me in and of itself because the whole book she had discussed how this character was independent and could take care of herself, and then she ended up becoming an outright damsel in distress.

But the part that just had me saying "what the frak?" was the manner in which the woman was being killed. See, the bad guy put her inside a plastic bag, tied the top, and then left her to die. Obviously, in a full sized plastic bag you aren't going to die immediately anyway, and I could actually be completely wrong on this, but all I could think was "It's plastic!" If that had been me, instead of lying there wondering if someone was going to save me, I'd have been trying my damndest to get some holes in said plastic. I mean, it's not like a garbage bag is tear proof, you know?

I just really didn't understand the logic, and to me it felt like a total plot device to allow the good guy (who of course we were supposed to think was the bad guy up until this point) to show up and save her life. I'd have been much more convinced if she had been tied to a chair and then had a plastic bag taped around her head.

Linda Adams
04-03-2010, 02:26 PM
Okay, first thought eeeeeew. And again, EEEEW.

Probably the best example I have was a Mary Higgins Clark book (don't recall which one, and I haven't read it in fifteen years probably) in which the main character, a "tough" "strong" chick, got caught by the bad guy and had to be rescued. That frustrated me in and of itself because the whole book she had discussed how this character was independent and could take care of herself, and then she ended up becoming an outright damsel in distress.

But the part that just had me saying "what the frak?" was the manner in which the woman was being killed. See, the bad guy put her inside a plastic bag, tied the top, and then left her to die. Obviously, in a full sized plastic bag you aren't going to die immediately anyway, and I could actually be completely wrong on this, but all I could think was "It's plastic!" If that had been me, instead of lying there wondering if someone was going to save me, I'd have been trying my damndest to get some holes in said plastic. I mean, it's not like a garbage bag is tear proof, you know?

I just really didn't understand the logic, and to me it felt like a total plot device to allow the good guy (who of course we were supposed to think was the bad guy up until this point) to show up and save her life. I'd have been much more convinced if she had been tied to a chair and then had a plastic bag taped around her head.

Obviously watched too much TV. The writer must have thought that it takes about ten seconds to die.

kaitie
04-03-2010, 02:40 PM
But you know...that's the crazy thing. If I remember correctly (seriously, 15 years so I could be completely wrong), part of what bugged me about it was that it wasn't an instantaneous thing. You had the character's POV as she was trapped inside knowing she wouldn't survive very long, but I don't recall her doing anything to seriously try to get free or tear the bag or you know, anything smart other than waiting on someone to come save her before she died. :tongue I'm almost tempted to figure out which book this was and read it again, but it annoyed me so much the first time I doubt I ever will. ;)

seun
04-03-2010, 05:07 PM
For instance, I'm reading right now, A Reliable Wife. So far, it's pretty good. But one of the main characters is freaked out by snow. She's traveled by train to Wisconsin, in the dead of winter, to fulfill a newspaper ad in search of a 'reliable wife'. This woman has an agenda and a past, but right now, the snow is really bothering her - the vast whiteness of it; the three solid days of it curtaining down. She goes on quite a lot about how alien the snow is. She's even gone so far as to order a pair of smoked glasses to shield her from the glare that's kept her indoors with the drapes drawn.


Whether that's to show a phobia of snow (does one exist?) or to show someone who's a little odd, I'd probably stop reading. One, it annoyed me just reading your synopsis. Two, it sounds like a writer forcing an issue to make a character quirky which is always a bad sign.

That might not be what the writer's doing, but that's the impression I get.

Perks
04-03-2010, 06:16 PM
Kaitie, that's just goofy. I've never read any Mary Higgins Clark, but that doesn't speak very well for the though put in - or for the beta, agent, editor crew who should have protected us from this sort of silliness.

Seun, I don't know about it being a phobia. It bothers her, but not in a drastic way. It just keeps startling her, mostly that it's white and that it produces a glare. And I'd have to say that if she had a snow-phobia, it would probably do to mention how it affected her in her old life in Chicago. Lol!

blacbird
04-03-2010, 10:45 PM
Back in the 1960s Chicago was the site of one of the worst blizzards in U.S. history, something like 6 FEET of snow, driven by winds into drifts as much as 20 FEET high. Snow in Chicago is like snow anywhere else in the north. I grew up in Iowa, about 250 miles directly west of Chicago. This writer doesn't have a clue. If I run into a factual matter that erroneous and egregious in any novel, it goes back on the shelf, or worse, right quicklike.

caw

shaldna
04-04-2010, 02:13 PM
It snowed when i was there. Bloody cold. And I'm from Ireland so I know what I'm talking about.

Perks
04-04-2010, 08:19 PM
Lol! The funniest part of this thread is the rep points about oil-flattening someone's beer. I have seriously managed to gross people out. But it wasn't me!!!

I'm right with you, though. Yuck.

Nivarion
04-05-2010, 09:34 AM
So I was reading about that battlefield earth, on wikipedia.

So, the idea of the story is that these slaves train themselves to fly harrier fighters and drive the aliens off the planet. with just a few fighters and a few rookie pilots. And just one base's worth of planes.

And I'm sitting there. "So if our war tech was good enough to beat them with that, how did they win the first time round?"

kaitie
04-05-2010, 10:01 AM
You need to watch this (http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/thatguywiththeglasses/nostalgia-critic/16754-battlefield-earth), Nivarion. He covers all of the ridiculous plot points in the movie, and it's pretty hilarious. ;)

I discovered they actually made a movie of the Mary Higgin's Clark book I read lol. Well, TV movie, but still. Apparently a lot of people thought it was worthwhile. ;)

Perks
04-05-2010, 04:41 PM
So I was reading about that battlefield earth, on wikipedia.

So, the idea of the story is that these slaves train themselves to fly harrier fighters and drive the aliens off the planet. with just a few fighters and a few rookie pilots. And just one base's worth of planes.

And I'm sitting there. "So if our war tech was good enough to beat them with that, how did they win the first time round?"Good lord. That's poor. Lol! I guess the professional soldiers just weren't motivated enough.

Jersey Chick
04-05-2010, 05:26 PM
I've never been to Chicago, but I wouldn't ever believe someone from there would never have seen snow before.

As for the oil-flattened beer - I have seen people do it. It is gross. It does work. And did I mention it's gross??? You couldn't pay me to drink it, either, because it's gross...

As for Mary Higgins Clark, I've read enough by her to know that:

1. heroine will be incredibly successful, no matter what her career, by the age of 21.

2. There will be a love interest who was there all along and she never noticed.

3. There will be some sort of parent/child issue.

4. The last person you expect is always the guilty one.

Perks
04-05-2010, 10:44 PM
Well, I finally gave up on A Reliable Wife. I'm a die hard who hates not finishing a book, especially one I've paid for, but I've got to get over that. When I'm lingering over laundry to avoid getting back to my reading, then it's time to consider a cutting of losses.

Grrarrgh
04-07-2010, 12:33 AM
I've never actually seen the movie Armageddon that was made about 10 years ago, but I remember reading an interview with Ben Affleck about the movie. He said that he kept asking Michael Bay how it made any sense at all to try to teach a bunch of deep-core drillers to be astronauts and save Earth. Wouldn't it have made a lot more sense to teach some of the astronauts how to drill? Which pretty much ruined me ever wanting to watch that movie. Something that glaring would have driven me nuts.

Kitty Pryde
04-07-2010, 12:55 AM
The nose-grease beer is revolting. It seems like a normal person could swipe a french fry over the head of the beer, thus not causing everyone in the vicinity to need to barf.

OK, I got a headscratcher: I'm reading this Australian magical realism, which already barely makes sense, because it's about unimaginitive white australians who don't have any beliefs in damn near anything. It's full of Random Magical Crap Irrelevantly Happening For No Reason. I like magical realism but this one sucks. Anyways. The high point of drama in the novel is that a little boy (who didn't show up until halfway through the book, damn it!) disappears in the night. The huge reveal at the end is that the kidnapper was, wait for it, wait for it, a child-raping were-dingo.

I'll let that sink in for a moment. A CHILD-RAPING WERE-DINGO stole the child. There were no shapeshifters previously in the story, and no hints that there was anything amiss about this character. Worst, least sensible ending ever. I would have thrown the book at the wall but i was already at the end by then.

tjwriter
04-07-2010, 01:31 AM
The Chicago thing is Weird, Weird, Weird.

The other is gross, disgusting, and nauseating.

There have been a few books I couldn't read all the way through, but I can't think of them now.

Perks
04-07-2010, 03:31 AM
A CHILD-RAPING WERE-DINGO Wow.

BenPanced
04-07-2010, 03:37 AM
But it seems it never rains in southern California (seems I've often heard that kind of talk before). It never rains in California but, girl, don't they warn you. It pours, man, it pours.

Sorry. Couldn't resist. In a lousy mood right now and need to happy it up in here.

Jamesaritchie
04-07-2010, 04:07 AM
Okay, first thought eeeeeew. And again, EEEEW.

Probably the best example I have was a Mary Higgins Clark book (don't recall which one, and I haven't read it in fifteen years probably) in which the main character, a "tough" "strong" chick, got caught by the bad guy and had to be rescued. That frustrated me in and of itself because the whole book she had discussed how this character was independent and could take care of herself, and then she ended up becoming an outright damsel in distress.

But the part that just had me saying "what the frak?" was the manner in which the woman was being killed. See, the bad guy put her inside a plastic bag, tied the top, and then left her to die. Obviously, in a full sized plastic bag you aren't going to die immediately anyway, and I could actually be completely wrong on this, but all I could think was "It's plastic!" If that had been me, instead of lying there wondering if someone was going to save me, I'd have been trying my damndest to get some holes in said plastic. I mean, it's not like a garbage bag is tear proof, you know?

I just really didn't understand the logic, and to me it felt like a total plot device to allow the good guy (who of course we were supposed to think was the bad guy up until this point) to show up and save her life. I'd have been much more convinced if she had been tied to a chair and then had a plastic bag taped around her head.


Strong and independent in no way means a woman is going to get the better of a man. Usually just ain't going to happen. I generally fling the book when the woman does whip the man. Real women aren't Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or there wouldn't be nearly as many women raped, mugged, kidnapped, and murdered each year.

A damsel in distress who needs to be rescued isn't bad, it's simply realistic.

As for the plastic, it depends on the type. Even some of the high end garbage bags are damned near impossible to tear. And they make many types of heavy-duty plastic bags that no one is going to get through without some sort of sharp weapon. Doesn't take very long to suffocate in one, either.

benbradley
04-07-2010, 05:04 AM
I remember Battlefield Earth. I read it just a few years after it came out, bought from a used bookstore because, even back then I didn't want to put money in that guy's pocket. Yes, I read the whole 1,000+ page thing (unlike another large, highly-touted-by-fans novel), and his writing style IS kinda-sorta like Heinlein's, but there's the lack of paying attention to tiny details that Heinlein and so many other great SF writers were and are so good at.

Somewhere in the middle of Battlefield Earth, the MC is some sort of assistant or slave to this alien that (IIRC, and I could have this pretty far wrong) runs the Earth department of this interplanetary/intersteller mining business. In one scene our MC is looking over the shoulder of this alien who is doing some algebra. MC is good at math, but is having a really hard time following the alien because the alien uses Base 12 arithmetic.

This really struck me as BS. Algebra is mostly about manipulating symbols, and the numbers are usually just constant multipliers or additions. One can estimate the order of magnitude of a base 12 number just by counting the number of digits (presuming the writing is anything like the way humans use Roman numerals).

I continued to read, humanity was saved (I don't remember the Harriers, but whatever), and I at least felt an accomplishment in, if nothing else, having read such a long book.

So, were ALL these novels published by commercial publishers who have books for sale at the local Big Box Bookstore? It sorta gives me hope for my own writing. Trying not to wipe my nose now that I know it's a totally gross thing to do on a date.

Chasing the Horizon
04-07-2010, 05:43 AM
Strong and independent in no way means a woman is going to get the better of a man. Usually just ain't going to happen. I generally fling the book when the woman does whip the man. Real women aren't Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or there wouldn't be nearly as many women raped, mugged, kidnapped, and murdered each year.

A damsel in distress who needs to be rescued isn't bad, it's simply realistic.
Oh, not this goddamn crap again. NOT TRUE. A bunch of other AW members (and me) have made so many posts explaining why this is not true. Gods. If I have to argue against this misogynistic crap one more time, I really am going to do something that gets me temp banned.

kuwisdelu
04-07-2010, 07:02 AM
I'll let that sink in for a moment. A CHILD-RAPING WERE-DINGO stole the child. There were no shapeshifters previously in the story, and no hints that there was anything amiss about this character. Worst, least sensible ending ever. I would have thrown the book at the wall but i was already at the end by then.

That's just funny.

Linda Adams
04-07-2010, 02:45 PM
Oh, not this goddamn crap again. NOT TRUE. A bunch of other AW members (and me) have made so many posts explaining why this is not true. Gods. If I have to argue against this misogynistic crap one more time, I really am going to do something that gets me temp banned.

Thank you for saying this. I grew up frustrated reading because the typical girl story turned the character into a total idiot. It wasn't that the guy was naturally stronger; it was that the woman character was often written to be stupid, clueless, and lacking completely in common sense. I remember a huge disappointment in a book where it was established the woman character knew karate, was a marksman, and was a bodyguard for the rich. She's demonstrated throughout the story that she's smart and clever. She gets caught by the bad guy--which was well done in regards to all that was previously developed. Given that it was a romantic suspense, I didn't have a problem with the guy coming to rescue her. But, in order to do that, the writer turned her stupid. She didn't do a single thing to help herself--she didn't even think about how she could escape, try to figure out where she was, or anything. That's the kind of stuff that makes want to throw the book across the room.