Emma’s Critique of Going Down
Throughout this excerpt of Going Down, we are dropped into conversations with people. In some instances, we don’t get the full dialogue of the conversation that is going on. An example of this is toward the beginning of this excerpt with: “…now see the problem normally might be you’re too much of a natural.” The ellipses indicate that we didn’t get to hear the beginning of this statement or the previous statements. This carries on throughout where we are dropped into conversations and taken out of conversations and into Chris’ thoughts. I saw this as Chris’ struggle with the clarity of his own thoughts, which is important to the text so the reader leans heavier toward Chris’ inner thoughts than his conversations with his coworkers and the conversations amongst his coworkers. There were a couple of instances where I did not realize there were as many people in the scene as there were. The first time was at the beginning when “Viktor cut[s] in.” I was picturing a conversation at a two-person table with Dave and Chris, so I was thrown a bit in my visual image when there was suddenly a third person: Viktor. The second time was when Chris is helping Dennis back to Chris’ suite. I assumed Chris was at the hotel alone but then he was there with Dave and the Russian director, the American producer, and the Saudi financier. Again, I had to reorient my mental image of the scene, or expand my mental image to a larger space with more people. Looking back in the text, I see it says “everyone had more or less stuck together.” But I didn’t see this as staying at a hotel together but sticking together throughout the festival. Perhaps I didn’t picture them in the same room as Chris because I had a hard time picturing them. I felt I had very little to go on to get a full image of these other men. Because this is an excerpt, there may be other chapters describing these people more fully but with this chapter isolated, I could not get a full picture of these men. Perhaps the reader does not get much information about these other men because Chris does not really know them, so the reader doesn’t get to either.
I felt a lot of stress and struggle for the character of Chris Selden throughout this excerpt of Going Down. One of the most potent sections for me was when Chris was delineating between meeting a person and crossing a person’s path: “It had always occurred to Chris he’d never really “met” anyone; instead his path crossed other paths, or paths converged, then diverged, only to resurface months later in the pages of a Men’s Health editorial or Budweiser commercial, or a chance meeting aboard a yacht in Villefranche.” This part made me think a lot about the relationships we have with people nowadays, and how fleeting they are. I felt a contrast of emotions during the bit with Ana. When Chris jokes with Ana saying, “And did you swim across the Caribbean, mamí? Or were airplanes safer back then?” I felt a sweetness and laughter. I felt a true connection. One emotion that was mentioned but I did not feel was “appalled.” After Bob asks the question, “Is the camera ever off?” Chris is described as feeling “appalled.” But I did not feel this as a reader. I feel that this is a strong emotion and wished to feel this emotion through a longer description of Chris’ reaction or more vulgar phrases by Bob.
I felt that a cohesive aspect of this excerpt was the use of listing. In many places throughout this excerpt, there is listing of questions, actions, observations, etc. This seemed to hurtle the story quickly forward while paralleling Chris’ observations of the fast-paced, modern world. There are a lot of modern-day references, such as Google Images, Super Size Me, Clark Kent-Superman, and more but there are also references to history with Rasputin and Socrates. This seems to be a common theme of this piece: the old and the new as well as time. “Chris Selden was trending” shows the reader that Chris’ is part of the “new,” he is popular, but he is also fleeting, like trends, especially on Twitter. Chris is struggling with finding his place in this world which is constantly shifting and changing and appears fake to Chris. He makes the statement about never having “met” anyone before and this is shown through being pulled into his thoughts. He is engaged in his thoughts but less so with other people. At the same time that he is engaged with his own thoughts, he is also wrestling with his thoughts because he is struggling with his place. There is tension between Chris and the people he is with but also a tension within Chris, and this comes through clearly.