“The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag”

Jonathan Hoag reader

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

And now something I did not like:

The title story of the collection The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag by Robert A. Heinlein. The collection was published in 1959; the novella originally published in 1942.

2 out of 5 stars.

Before the complaints, a few good passages:

[1]

Unattached old men, who seem never to have had a past, sit in these chairs, live in the rooms above, and every now and then one is found hanging in his room, necktie to light fixture.

(p.5)

[2]

He had realized that he did not remember where he had dirtied his nails because he had no recollection of where he had been that day, nor the day before, nor any of the days before that. He did not know what his profession was.

It was preposterous, but it was terribly frightening.

(p.8)

[3]

“Do you imagine a man, simply because his own mind is playing him tricks, doesn’t recognize insanity in others?”

(p.46)

And now the problems:

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The Cars They Drive

I wrote a book called The Dumaine House. At a certain point, it seemed important to know what cars the main cast drove. And now you know, too! Lucky day!

 

Toyota Camry 2006
David Kozarik (2006 Toyota Camry)
Jaguar XKE
Lawrence Brock (Jaguar XKE. Only in the summer, friends.)
subaru outback 2010
Dahlia Brock (2010 Subaru Outback)
SAMSUNG
Nick Rossi (2000 VW Jetta)
honda civic 2007
Owen Novak (2007 Honda Civic)
Ford f150 2004
Mike Arnold (2004 Ford F-150)
pontiac Safari 1988
Barry Webber (1988 Pontiac Safari)
prius 2007
Jeremy Elliot (2007 Toyota Prius)
Escalade 2009
Rosemary Lambert (2009 Cadillac Escalade. It’s a rental.)
cadilla deville 2004
Ruth Westerhoff (2004 Cadillac DeVille)
BMW M3 2008
John Stark (2008 BMW M3)

 

Wait with baited breath for the next installment: The Coffee Mugs They Drink Out Of.

(Joking. But I could do it, you know. David has a Syracuse University mug somewhere in his house and I’m sure Mike Arnold has stolen one from a diner.)

“The Raft”

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

A short story from Stephen King’s Skeleton Crew (1985). Also the basis for the best segment in the otherwise subpar Creepshow 2 (1987).

4 out of 5 stars.

I love a good “What-if”.

What if four college kids were trapped on a lake raft by a carnivorous oil slick?

And this oil slick knows what’s up. It will squeeze between wooden planks to eat you if you stand on a crack. It guards the shore. You can try to wait it out but that means standing constantly, freezing as day turns to night and losing your mind because that thing in the water cannot possibly exist. No one knows where you are, no help is coming, no one is going to check on this closed lake road until spring.

Oh, it’s wicked. This one haunted and delighted me as a kid. This (along with classic Twilight Zone – I’m sure we’ll have some talks about that) made me realize it was possible to be haunted and delighted at the same time.

[1] Fantastic dialogue rhythm. Combination of stage directions and parenthetical statement works very well:

Rachel said that summers had seemed to last forever when she was a girl, but now that she was an adult (“a doddering, senile nineteen,” Deke joked, and she kicked his ankle), they got shorter every year. “It seemed like I spent my life out at Cascade Lake,” she said, crossing the decayed kitchen linoleum to the icebox.

(p.280)

[2] King likes to drop hints of future doom. I’ve heard complaints about this. I think it helps propel the reader forward, especially if it comes during an otherwise slow section. What do you think?

Randy suddenly thought she looked like someone famous or semi-famous. He couldn’t quite place the resemblance. It would come to him later, under less pleasant circumstances.

(p.280)

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