GW Recaps–The Book of Joel: Chapter Twelve, Thirteen, Sam & Laura
Previous: Angela, Chapter Eleven, Ty & Dean
Chapter 12/The quote that frames the chapter:
Maxim Gorky: In the carriages of the past you can’t go anywhere. Connection to the story–if someone is trapping a person in their own version of the past, they may try to trap the real person, as Joel finds with Meese.
Zest takes Joel out to Columbus Circle to talk over what is happening with Gabriel. Zest insists he wants to help Gabriel, to in some way make up for a life that he otherwise feels is unredeemable.
Joel is all too eager to have Zest on board. He drives to NJ to see Gabriel. Gabriel has had his head examined, but nothing more than migraines has been diagnosed. Joel is a little worried about telling Gabriel about Zest, but he does. Gabriel is not upset with Joel as Joel expected, but Gabriel is also unwilling to have Zest help in any way. This leads to another confrontation over the direction to go in helping Gabriel, and Joel leaves angry.
Joel goes to help his mother work on the house to sell it. His minor irritations with her are interrupted by Meese showing up. Meese seems more out of it than ever. He alternately threatens Joel and acts protective of him. Joel and Gloria both try to defy him, but Meese holds a card. He tells Gloria about Joel’s past as a sex worker, in order to drive her apart from Joel. In his own sick way, he thinks he’s helping Joel from Gloria’s influence. Before he leaves, he also tells Joel that Gabriel has his own violent secret of having beat up a drug dealer in his youth.
Joel is left stunned and defensive, especially when his mother now seems to be horrified at finding out the truth of what Joel used to do. He cannot take her judgment and runs out.
Meanwhile Alex makes a pest of himself at Bob’s door, and Gabriel has to tell him to GTFO. Alex is persistent enough that Gabriel has to say some unpleasant things to him–which Alex doesn’t believe anyway.
Joel is on his own in a daze for several house before returning to Bob’s condo. Gabriel immediately sees Joel’s troubled and brings him in for comfort.
Joel, practical even in his misery, has called Zest over and Gabriel is nonplussed to see him again. Nonetheless he listens to Zest’s proposal. Zest has more information on Cody, and they all figure that Cody has souvenir videos of his kills in his cabin. The trick is getting in the cabin. Gabriel is gun shy about trying that, but Zest is up for it and plans to help after returning from an errand.
Later, Gabriel is working with Walter at the condo, when they realize people are hiding outside the condo, approaching them.
Chapter 13/The quote that frames the chapter:
William Shakespeare: Things without all remedy should be without regard. What’s done is done. Connection to the story–Don’t waste time on the past that can’t be fixed. Fix the future. Joel looks to fixing the future.
Gabriel, Bob and Walter get into protective mode. Walter goes upstairs to be prepared to call for help, and Gabriel and Bob arm themselves. Gabriel then gets Veronica to make a fake call to the fire department–which gets some trucks to arrive in time to scare off the intruders.
The next morning, Veronica and Gabriel install some cameras in the area. Joel comes by and is concerned over the attempted attack. Joel has been thinking of another strategy. In Bob’s condo, Gabriel, Bob, Veronica, Danny, Walter, Michaela and Jim share a lunch. And Joel tells them his strategy. He starts by describing what happened to him with Meese as a 15 year old. Then he says he wants to sue Meese.
Michaela and Jim debate the legal niceties, and agree to help Joel with this suit. Joel hopes to protect Gabriel through exposing Meese, and also as a means of taking action against his tormentor. Everyone supports him on this. Joel feels this is a change.
Sam & Laura, Riza, Antony/The quote that frames the chapter:
Søren Kierkegaard: Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. Connection to the story–tapping into the powers of pragmatism, in this case self-survival, Joel learns when to leave a situation that is going badly. He learns from the patterns of behavior.
Back to 2004. Joel is on his own, but stays on good terms with Angela. Angela has a referral for him, a well-to-do couple named Sam and Laura. He meets them and they are both immediately taken with him. He starts regular meetings with them, which Sam persistently increases. Joel is alarmed by Sam’s growing attachment to him, and dependence upon the sexual encounters. Sam finally begs Joel to move in with them. Joel decides it’s time to change, and leaves town.
Joel visits a musician friend in London. While at a party, a famous rock star, Antony Savage, has an impulsive sexual encounter with Joel. But Joel isn’t interested on following up on it. Rather, he takes a sabbatical of sorts in India. He meets a Muslim man, Riza. Riza is seriously closeted, but takes Joel with him on a spiritual journey in the countryside. Although they become emotionally close, Riza is insistent he can’t change what his family has determined he must do in marriage and responsibilities. Joel leaves before he gets more invested in Riza, before he gets hurt.
Back in London, Antony finds him. They stay together for a year or so, but Antony is unstable and uses drugs. Eventually Joel moves out, and Antony feels betrayed, even writing a song about Joel that he makes Joel listen to. Joel is not very impressed.
Between the Pages:
- One of the main concepts concerning me here was Joel finding a way to hit back at Meese. From my own experience, being unable to do something about someone who hurt you, attacked you, in childhood is frustrating and carries scars. Writing helps me, but Joel turns to legal maneuvers. Having been an attorney, I got caught up in researching exactly what Joel could in fact do, basing this on real-life examples of persons suing abusers in adulthood, or persons suing dioceses. The statute Mikki cites is an actual one and it would be task to get past that hearing with an acceptable reason as to why one has not brought suit. However, the more society understands the psychological effects of abuse the more this becomes easier to demonstrate.
- The three sets of Joel’s past life are all about persons who latch on to Joel, thinking in some way he will serve their needs. Joel gets into habits, and by the nature of his profession can be malleable at playing to be what others need. But this is the turning point for him where he doesn’t want to live his life as someone else’s fantasy, or hidden desire. He uses his ability to adapt and embrace change by simply leaving.
- One of the ways I know a book is going well is when ‘callbacks’ develop. In TBOJ, it’s Gabriel saying Joel is or isn’t going to win something, and both Joel and Gabriel having a He something something me moment. With Gabriel it was Alex hanging up on him. And now Gloria judging Joel. The gall of the particular action.
- Alex demonstrates more gall by showing up at Bob’s and suggesting that Gabriel and he still have something. Gabriel, frustrated, says something not nice–but true.
Beyond the Pages:
- Mr. Zest is meticulous in his dress. He allows Gabriel to disrupt that dress to show he isn’t recording or hiding anything. I’ve thought about who might play Mr. Zest. I can cast my own TV show in imagination. James Mason is certainly a type. But also Sam Neill.
- Bob mentions the book How to Win Friends and Influence People. This was an early self-help book, the precursor of all others.
- Paper Chase, which Joel mentions offhand as if he was Gabriel, was a movie and TV show in the 1970s, about law school. It’s known for an iconic performance by John Houseman as a tough contracts professor. Here’s a dime; call your mother and tell her there’s serious doubt about your becoming a lawyer.
Question for Readers:
Have you ever had a moment when you were shocked that someone would have the gall or hypocrisy like Alex or Gloria? What did you do?
Feels like time for some Depeche Mode. Depeche Mode is one of those groups, like Erasure, who can always fit into a Gabriel’s World story, like with Personal Jesus
Take second best /Put me to the test
Things on your chest /You need to confess
I will deliver/ You know I’m a forgiver
In fact, the longer Boys Noize remix could be the theme song for Two-Faced Woman period. It has the right foreboding quality. And I have no problems with Gabriel being a Jesus figure of sorts. He is always seeking his soteriological qualities.
Welcome to My World
And I’ll hold you in my arms/And keep you by my side
And we’ll sleep the devil’s sleep/Just to keep him satisfied
This also fits with Gabriel’s mental state, and sometimes with Joel’s. Haunted, gritty. Gabriel tells Walter, “Welcome to my world,” and it’s not the first time he’s said it.
For those not familiar with Eighties music, take a look at the Asia video (RIP John Wetton) in question with which Joel throws some shade at Antony. In spite of the shade, which was only because Antony is a bit pretentious about his indie/alt credentials, Asia was my favorite band for the Eighties. From what I remember reading, they had their own serious conflicts like Ellipses (a band in the tried and true tradition of brothers fighting viciously).
I admit I like the idea of a song being out there about Joel, which only amuses Joel as he has not told anyone of his time with Antony Savage.
Copyright 2016 Alex Fiano
Page updated 3/10/2018