Have finished watching the entire five years of "Rescue Me," which is quite the study in lack of self-control, self-determination, a study in being a tool, the whole world calling you selfish when you’re busting your ass to take care of everyone else, and a TV series in which women are just the worst kind of bitches. (More on that later.) The struggle of the main character, Tommy Gavin, with alcohol and rage is key to the series.
On to reading The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon and I’m wondering what it is about the alcoholic that is so attractive in literature. I don’t believe that it’s just because so many writers are alcoholics; I think it’s because it’s similar to the plot device of dead parents in children’s literature: one must rid the heroes of the restraining influence of parents in order to foster the adventure. Alcohol use is a way to easily show the fallibility of the main character. One must show the dark in order to believe in the light, says an early tutor of mine, so here’s the hero with great instincts and perseverance, accompanied by a dark side that is frowned upon by ‘good society.’ It’s short-hand for “bad side.” Same way that alcohol in a screenplay is shorthand for ‘adverse reaction’ e.g. hero comes home after a scene and opens a bottle of Tequila. Alcohol in a story is also a quick trick for allowing your character to do unreasonable things, actions that come out of left field. A couple of drinks and the character can suddenly do something that accelerates the plot faster than what a reasonable person could accelerate it. It might even be a quick trick for changes in the plot e.g. “he wakes up in a bed but he doesn’t know where, with someone he doesn’t recognize.” Much easier/faster than explaining it all in reasonable detail.
Causes Jess Wells Supports
Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, Friends of the Urban Forest, The Heifer Project, Forests Forever, NRDC