At Bella's house, our heroes lament their sorry lot.
“What a mess,” I mumbled.
That's what she said! Bella, I mean.
“It does feel that way, doesn't it? Like it's coming at us from all sides these days.” He sighed.
SHOW DON'T TELL, S. Meyer. Edward asks if Bella has anything she'd like to ask – he's alluding to the party at La Push. Bella says she figured he had enough to worry about as it is. “You don't have to ask my permission, Bella,” Edward says. She doesn't?
“Bella,” Edward said. “I told you that I was going to be reasonable and trust your judgment. I meant that. If you trust the werewolves, then I'm not going to worry about them.”
“Wow,” I said, as I had last night.
THAT'S ALSO WHAT SHE SAID. Bella says she wants to bring her motorcycle back to La Push for the next few weeks, as in her last few weeks of being human, after which she will insist that Jacob sell it and make some money. Edward seems disappointed, which Bella assumes is his inner father-spirit disapproving of motorcycles. That was the OLD Edward, Bella, get with the times! At the Cullen garage, she learns the truth – Edward has gone and got himself his own bike so they could ride together. Bella's powers of description totally abandon her looking at what we can only assume is either Edward's bike or an Anish Kapoor sculpture. Try to visualize this:
It was big and sleek and silver and – even totally motionless – it looked fast.
But Edward realizes the bikes are Bella's thing with Jacob, and immediately backs off. He says he'll give the bike to Jasper. “Perhaps it's time he discovered a new way to travel,” Edward says. “After all, Alice has her Porsche now.” Yeah, because those two need yet another thing that makes them cooler than Edward and Bella.
“More sexual chemistry”- The Atlantic
Edward brings out a few things he bought Bella – a helmet for her motorcycle, and “one object that was black and shapeless.” (There's probably another Anish Kapoor sculpture for this.) It turns out to be a riding jacket, but it takes Bella a RIDICULOUS amount of time to figure it out. (What is wrong with her brain? The head protection might be too little, too late Edward.) She puts on the helmet and jacket for him – this is the least sexy fashion show ever, you're supposed to do it with lingerie Edward – and she says she feels “bulky.”
He seemed to be struggling for the right word. “You look...sexy.”
Edward totally gets off on safety precautions. Someday when their marriage starts to lose the spark he's going to get Bella to dress up in a flight attendant uniform and show him what to do in the event of a crash. Creepy, but true.
And then he pulled the helmet off so that he could kiss me.
That's like a stupid, awkward, nightmare version of the last sentence from Twilight, “And he leaned down to press his cold lips once more to my throat.” That one I liked. This I hate.
Edward drives Bella to the La Push border to hand her off to Jacob, which Bella likens to custody trade-offs when she was a kid. Sure, this is like, the most perfect divorce parallel ever. Assuming your mom is a vampire and your dad is a werewolf and their divorce resulted in the drawing up of a highly specific treaty that necessitated hand-offs of children across what is essentially a real DMZ, of course.
Edward and Jacob have a little pissing contest where Edward kisses Bella goodbye really hard and then when she gets to Jacob he hugs her really hard and then she goes back to Edward who goes down on her for a long time and then she goes back to Jacob who totally bangs her senseless and then she goes back to Edward who has constructed a sex-contraption like George Clooney in Burn After Reading and... well, okay, some of that happens.
Chapter 11: Legends
SPOILER ALERT: This chapter is incredibly fucking boring. Bella attends the werewolf bonfire where Billy Black tells the longest, most pointless story anyone has ever told. Last weekend I had dinner with my wife's family and her step-grandfather recapped for us the plot of the movie Shooter starring Mark Whalberg, seemingly in real time and without the help of any proper nouns whatsoever (including the title; Shooter was everyone's best guess). It was more entertaining than this.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Around the bonfire, Bella takes in the wolfy milieu. Jacob and Paul have each consumed ten or so hot dogs and are jokingly fighting over the last. Jacob is dipping said hot dog into the flames with a bent wire hanger, which is too richly symbolic an image to delve into here. And they're not even really joking; when Jacob refuses to give Paul the damn hot dog the guy's hands ball up into fists! But whatever, hair-trigger tempers are the least of the pack's worries these days. Speaking of which, Quil greets Bella with a kiss on the cheek, a gesture she returns with three bullets in his chest. Just kidding, I can only wish.
The remainder of the Clearwater family is present for what turns out to be a tribal council meeting and new werewolf induction ceremony. Bella realizes that Sue Clearwater must have taken her husband's place on the board of directors. “Did that make her children automatic members of La Push's most secret society?” Bella wonders. Are there other, less secret secret societies around the Rez? Also, how many people are on this damn reservation? How secret can the werewolf thing be? They are meeting on top of a cliff with a huge bonfire!
Bella is in top form tonight. First she stares at Leah Clearwater, searching for some hint of the rage she must feel with Sam and Emily present. Failing that, she turns her withering glare on Jared's imprint victim Kim, who she immediately deems ugly.
She had a wide face, mostly cheekbones, with eyes too small to balance them out.
Hey, fuck you Bella. But then she watches the way Jared watches Kim. And it is definitely the way guys look at girls. Just kidding, it isn't that at all.
It was like a blind man seeing the sun for the first time. Like a collector finding an undiscovered Da Vinci, like a mother looking into the face of her newborn child.
UM, MAYBE WE WANT TO RECONSIDER THAT LAST COMPARISON? Maybe we want to reconsider imprinting in general? Maybe we want to reconsider this whole book? I don't buy this love for a minute. If S. Meyer had said “it was like a 15-year-old seeing tits for the first time,” then I would have understood. But it doesn't stop Bella from basically falling in love with Kim.
Her skin looked like russet-colored silk in the firelight...the shape of her lips was a perfect double curve...
First of all: moratorium on “russet-colored.” S. Meyer feels like she has to qualify everything about Native Americans with the fact that they have dark skin. (“Jacob walked russet-coloredly toward me, a russet-colored smile crossing his russet-colored face.”) WE KNOW, THEY ARE ETHNIC. (“And this part is really important: this character is a non-white.”-S. Meyer)
Jacob says it's time for the stories; Quil and a few other recent wolf-converts have heard them before, but never knew they were true until now. So okay, they tell these stories at every meeting. Oral tradition is important after all (“Very important. Wait, what are you talking about?”-Alice Cullen). Why does Emily whip out a notebook and start writing everything down, though? Can't you just use the minutes from the last meeting?
Bella is surprised by the majestic Native-American qualities of Billy Black's russet-colored voice. Were it that his story was as interesting. I'll summarize:
Blah blah blah Quileutes blah blah small race blah blah lots of enemies good land blah blah one day the Quileutes learned to make their souls leave their bodies. Then one day one guy left his body and another took it and he was a bad guy. Blah blah the good guy's soul joined up with a wolf and defeated the bad body-stealer and then from then on they were wolves.
I could go on, or we could all listen to this adorable French girl tell a fairy-tale. I think the choice is obvious.
After Billy Black finally shuts up it becomes clear that the story was only one performance on the setlist. Quil Ateara's grandfather speaks next.
“That was the story of the spirit warriors,” Old Quil began in a thin tenor voice. “This song is called 'Sunday, Bloody Sunday.'”
This is the vampire story (finally) and it basically recounts the history of werewolf run-ins with vampires leading up to the Cullens' time. Once there was a particularly bad vampire attack, and the main character from Billy Black's story, Taha Aki, almost got killed. But his wife saved him by stabbing herself in the heart, which distracted the vampire long enough for Taha Aki to gain the upper hand. This story profoundly affects Bella. So much so that she falls asleep pretty much immediately; this girl is seriously sleep deprived, and she's not even getting laid! But before that happens, she thinks about the wife “with no special gifts or powers” who saved everyone – by killing herself! leave it to Bella to see heroics in the most passive-aggressive act possible – and laments that Quileute oral tradition is so lacking in specifics.
I wish they'd remembered her name...
Something shook my arm.
Gloria Steinem. Just kidding, it's only Jacob. She's suddenly in his car – some time has passed – and she briefly panics because she hasn't called Edward yet. But Jacob did it for her. Awwwww. Hey, wait – what is wrong with this story (and Jacob) that such a tiny gesture feels like a monumental act of kindness? Jacob brings Bella to the DMZ where Edward is waiting, pacing back and forth in front of his car. Cool your jets, buddy!
It's been a while since I've been very nitpick-y with S. Meyer's prose. For one thing, I feel like I've covered that, but there's also a great new tumblr-blog that has been picking S. Meyer apart with microscopic precision for the last two weeks or so. It's called “Reasoning With Vampires,” and if you're fuming about comma splices or split infinitives I recommend it wholeheartedly. Though at the rate they seem to be going they won't get to Eclipse for another 20 or 30 years.
I will take a minute to say, however, that S. Meyer's treatment of Native-American “dialect” is kind of vaguely insulting, since it essentially amounts to making them sound like the above French girl. I get that phrases like “And then the greatest magic happened” feel intuitively authentic, and maybe they would be – if Twilight was set on the American frontier in 1816. But it isn't. Native Americans sound like the rest of us, S. Meyer. But maybe in the hands of a less oblivious-seeming writer this wouldn't feel as offensive. And maybe we should count our blessings Billy Black doesn't fucking talk like The Hulk.
“Taha Aki no like Cold Man. Wolf smash face!”
Edward takes Bella home and puts her to bed; she has a Tony Soprano-esque dream in which Rosalie is an evil vampire attacking a wolf she “instinctively” recognizes as Billy Black. S. Meyer doesn't come right out and say the wolf is in a wheelchair, but how else would Bella be able to figure it out? Bella finds her dream-self dream-running toward the dream-conflict (I was holding out hope that Edward would tip the bed while she was sleeping, throwing off the dream-gravity, but no dice), wielding a knife and ready to kill herself, Quileute wife-style. Well, we certainly didn't wait too long to draw that comparison!
This chapter is full of transparent symbolism, actually. The next morning Bella wakes up and sees that Edward has been reading Wuthering Heights, this book's supposed inspiration, while she slept. I'm glad he's finally doing something constructive. Listening to Bella talk in her sleep had to get old sooner or later – it's bad enough when she's AWAKE. Imagine having a window into Bella's raw subconscious. On second thought, don't.
She quotes a long passage from the page Edward was on – Heathcliff is talking about another man whose heart he would very much like to rip out and whose blood he would very much like to drink. I haven't read Wuthering Heights in a while, but I'm pretty sure Heathcliff isn't actually a vampire, right? But his figure of speech is lost on Bella; she sees the scenario as very similar to her own. And we know that because she basically says “it was a lot like my situation.” Well, there is no better way to articulate the parallels between two works than to have a character just say those parallels out loud. Except for, you know, all of the other ways. And then, it was well deserved for the lion.
Previous entries can be found in the directory.