I know I shouldn't be reviewing each chapter on it's own merits, but please someone tell me they also thought Chapter 17 was a mess? It's as if all the problems with the novel, thus far, could be found in four pages.
I've been having trouble warming to Tina. I've been patiently waiting to see what Ty sees in her (And even vice versa. Why are these characters having an affair other than they are convenient?) I was hopeful when we finally got a glimpse of her home life I'd learn more about her as a person and discover why she's cheating on her husband of fifteen years.
I have issues with infidelity, but I'm also willing to admit there are, if not entirely acceptable, understandable reasons for cheating. Does Mark have a drinking problem? Is he verbally abusive? Is he having his own affair? Is he simply an asshole? I want to understand why Tina turned to Ty and, as written so far, we haven't gotten a sense of some undeniable attraction.
But what I took away from the chapter is Mark is an OK guy, if perhaps suffering from some depression and maybe feeling warn down by life. In fact, I was feeling quite sympathetic towards him. He lost his job. His wife is never around and he doesn't know where she is. He's single-handily taking care of three kids (one disabled). And while he's making dinner, without any help, Tina sits and whines that he's not giving her his full attention? Grrrr.
Tina comes off as cold, selfish and simply bored with her marriage. And who has an argument such as they did in front of a six year old with cerebral palsy who is unable to leave the room? (And, of course, the child has cerebral palsy because every single character has to be carrying some sort of family baggage.) That bothered me more than anything else.
Making the situation worse, we get Tina's inner dialogue telling us she's been spending more and more time away from home. She's either at the hospital, at the clinic or with Ty. It's one thing to stay away from your husband, but to not want to see your children? I hope Mark gets custody in the divorce. Yeah, really not liking Tina AT ALL.
Another problem I had with the chapter is the shifting POV's. When I wrote my first fanfic, I got called on being all over the place with POV (but, hey, it was my first attempt at writing fiction) and I was dumbstruck that an editor didn't catch this problem. In addition to that issue, the breaks within chapters continue to seem random.
Villanueva's treatment (or lack thereof) of the neo-nazi murder, and the consequences he's going to face for not allowing the neurologist to exam him, is intriguing and poses interesting questions. (One that dawned on me, how six individuals perhaps lost their second chance at life while this guy, eventually, rots in prison.) However, the way it was all written felt heavy-handed and the chief of nursing's speech to the nurses on duty left me rolling my eyes. Not only was the speech itself overly earnest, I found it hard to believe it would move anyone to change their stance.
I continue to be interested to see if Park's tumor - and subsequent experience as a patient - will fundamentally change him. We already have seen a more sympathetic side to him. And how will this storyline be adapted for Chelsea General?
The one highlight of my reading was the last chapter and Monique taking Sanford home to meet the family. That was some much needed humor. In fact, Monique may be favorite character in the novel. She's the one character that comes to life for me on the page. (Ty does as well, but that's mostly because I focus on Ty as Jamie. Or is it Jamie as Ty? You know what I mean. ;) She's good at her job. Strong-willed. FUNNY. And she and Sanford, if they make an appearance on CG, could be super cute together. I just love her to bits.
Now that I've got my rant out of the way, what did everyone else think?
I came across a couple articles on Dr. Sanjay Gupta this weekend that contained information perhaps relevant to our discussions.
The Digital Journal reveals Villanueva is Gupta's favorite character and views him as "the purest character of them all".
And from the National Post, at a conference, Gupta joked(?) the pilot is called Chelsea General rather than "Monday Mornings" because "the TV types don’t want to confuse anyone if the show ends up airing, say, on Thursday evenings."
Discussion of Chapters 1 through 8
Discussion of Chapters 9 through 16