I thought that Rich’s entire “Prophet” (with a capital P, mind) subplot in Odds Against Tomorrow was stupid. Its continued prevalence during the third part required so much suspension of my disbelief that I half expected the whole novel to turn into a Dune knockoff – that or a robot uprising would have brought the book’s lackluster ending up a few notches in my book.
Let’s delve into my frustration and take a look at how often “prophet” pops up according to Amazon, shall we?
Fifteen times: 10 referring (directly or indirectly) to Mitchell specifically, 4 of them with that Preposterous capital P; seven that are kind of unrelated. There are three prophets in part 1, two in part 2, and ten in part 3. Just one of those involves alliteration.
All the way back on page 32, Mitchell contemplates what it would mean to be the one to predict a major disaster: “You [would be] a prophet.”
If only he knew.
Now, how about the count on “fear”? That’s a pretty prevalent concept.
Forty-six! That’s even more than four tens. Quite a lot of fear going on in here; there are 22 instances of the word in part 1, 10 in part 2, and the remaining 14 are stuck in Part 3. How coincidental that Mitchell’s more fearless phase is the most _fear_less part of the whole book.
Speaking of fear, there’s an uplifting quote by David Goodis on Page 199, kicking off part 3 on a high note: “There’s no such thing as courage. There’s only fear. A fear of getting hurt and a fear of dying. That’s why the human race has lasted so long.”
I guess he’s right about courage – Goodis’ quote includes the only appearance of the word “courage” in the entire book (compared to quite a lot of fear, as we’ve seen). “Courageous” appears twice, sure, but one of its hiding places is in the context of totally fake disaster footage (p. 234). The other is, perhaps notably, Jane’s congratulations to Mitchell upon the successful end of their canoe voyage, just after Mitchell decides that living in fear is no way to live at all (P. 187).
Amazon’s Look Inside!, enthusiastic as it may be, can’t hunt for context. I wonder how often “fear” is presented in an edible context, as it is on page 20? How can I tell my computer to scour the text for “Prophet”: not for the book Prophets (p. 71), but for Mitchell’s unwanted title? Sure, the feature would have only saved me a few moments for this blog post (I didn’t bother to filter down to the fearful food portions), but it sure would be neat.