The War of the Encyclopaedists: A Chapter 14 review

I’m currently reviewing chapters of War of the Encyclopaedists by Gavin Kovite and Christopher Robinson. As a Dune novel it’s pretty awful. This is pretty great reading material if you want to start writing fantasy novels. I feel like I’m learning a lot about the craft of writing just by obsessively pouring over these chapters.

Look forward to my own upcoming novel tentatively titled Saint Machete du Katana.

In this Bostonian Chapter we follow Corderoy to Professor Accent MacIreland-Joyce Novel’s class.

Some super fake student names are dropped.

Stanley Fish’s idea of interpretive communities. Wolfgang Iser’s implied reader.

But get this: those are real dudes. Crazy, right?

Then we see Corderoy is the architect of his own misery.

Sandy, Ray, Maria, and even old Gary were going out for a pint. They invited Corderoy, but he declined, pushing himself further out of the nascent social group. As they left, he felt like the weird kid on the playground the other kids made fun of.

Like… what, man? Seriously, like what? I mean this is on you, Corderoy, not me.

Brofessor James Joy-definitely-a-reference is like what’s up, dawg?

And Corderoy is all like:

Corderoy held up Ulysses in his right hand, his index finger stuck between pages 761 and 762.

Then Brofessor Flanniganference is all like, “That’s cool, dawg.”

Then Corderoy takes it to the streets and has like feelings about things because he’s read part of Ulysses and hasn’t had time to masturbate yet.

his soul was magnitudinous, it was a powerful vector with no directional component. He wasn’t happy or cathartic. He was charged.

I’m thinking Corderoy is just depressed. I felt pretty similar one time when I was depressed for five years and reading Catcher in the Rye over and over again. Forget that last part, it makes me sound like the guy from Conspiracy Theory.

Corderoy walks home and we get a mid-Chapter character viewpoint shift while the original viewpoint character is in the room.

Tricia is all up in the apartment petting Smokey, the terribly important character of her cat which will be an integral part to her own arc.

Corderoy gets a beer because he’s not reading Ulysses, masturbating, canvassing, or on MySpace.

Tricia however is depressed.

Earlier today, her classmate Jeff Alessi had asked her to go see Super Size Me at the Coolidge Corner Theatre and she’d turned him down. She didn’t feel like doing that. Or doing anything with Jeff. Or doing anything with anyone.

Because she’s depressed.

Then Corderoy starts acting insightful which is the most unbelievable thing that’s happened in a few chapters since this book convinced me that Corderoy can’t get out of a closet without hanging himself on a jacket by accident while crying.

“So what, you’re upset that you have a crush–”

“It’s not a crush.”

“–that you’re attracted to this worldly, older guy who’s doing the shit you want to be doing. Seems pretty standard.”

Who is this guy?

But maybe Hal was right?

No, Hal is not right.

She had never had a relationship that lasted longer than a few months. There were numerous reasons why, she told herself. Her standards were high. She’d consistently made decisions not conducive to sustaining relationships: she’d gone to Barnard, an all-women’s college, she’d studied abroad in Bolivia in her junior year,

Bolivia, an all-women’s country.

she’d interned with the documentary team on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation which was the home of the Vuvalani, an all female tribe of snipers who ride around on dirt bikes.

She’d had plenty of hookups and a few flings, but these had been the exception rather than the rule.

Eh, I’m not concerned for Tricia. She’s like, what? Twenty-ish?

“I mean, who doesn’t want that?” she said.


“You know.”


“You’re gonna make me say it?”

Corderoy smirked and took a swig of High Life.

“Looove,” Tricia said dramatically, as if that neuter the word.

But Corderoy nodded thoughtfully, and the word seemed to take on the mantle of a Zen koan.

God, do you really expect me to believe this is happening? This guy can’t shower and has a real too-much-information inclination when it comes to underwear stains.

Then we really spiral out hard.

why was Hal being so nice? So interested. They’d gone through the routine, and it hadn’t ended in sex–their social dynamic had been established–they tolerated each other. Was he making a move?

No, he’s not. Also, you don’t want any of that, according to the tenets laid down by TLC this guy is a scrub.

Was that what she thought, that he was trying to impress her? Why would she think that unless… unless she wanted him. He suddenly remembered that she was a sexual creature, like all humans, and as such, she had sexual desires. He wondered if she was as dirty, as deliciously dirty, as Molly Bloom.

I really don’t know what’s happening here other than Corderoy is kicking in his “imagining people’s lives” instead of actually getting to know them.

She thought of herself as kind enough. Social nicety wasn’t at the top of her list of priorities. She could be abrasive, yes. But that didn’t stop her from thinking that it was somehow her fault if others perceived her as a bitch. Which was crazy. And she knew it.

I get that we’re getting to know Tricia, but I kind of got the feeling of this from earlier chapters where Corderoy couldn’t have a conversation with her without her bringing up the inherent racism in Star Wars. I can believe that lady won’t get much action among some crowds.

It was an unfortunate psychological consequence of her three greatest virtues, her desire to better the world, her willingness to take responsibility where others wouldn’t, and her ruthless self-discipline.

I kind of think all of this is in Corderoy’s head and this is his assessment of her strengths and weaknesses.

Corderoy’s third eye of bullshit opens.

Corderoy’s sense of magnitude that Molly Bloom’s monologue had lent him, his sense of bigness, his realm of mental apprehension that had been slowly expanding, it passed some invisible threshold and he saw Tricia… She told herself she wanted an enlightened guy, but enlightened guys weren’t manly, and manly men were so rarely enlightened. As much as she domineered most social situations, when it came to romance, Tricia Burnham fit the stereotype: she wanted a man to sweet her a way. Worse was the paradoxical situation she had placed herself in: she wanted to be conquered by a pacifist.

Oh, she’s looking for a Joe Rogan type. She should start hitting up MMA gyms and rock-climbing gyms. Those guys tend to be super manly and yet also really liberal politically. Just sayin’. Anyway, I’m not sure I buy this because I still suspect Corderoy is just using his unreality Elect powers to generate this for Tricia. We’re talking about a guy who rewrites his own history, he can probably rewrite his roommate’s present.

Corderoy then loses his shit because she asks him about girls he’s in to.

The end.


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