Daily Archives: March 5, 2013

Literary Critic: I’ve Become “That Guy”

I figure I am the only person who cares about this, but I’m going to rant about this anyway:

I tried to reading the beginning of a series by author Vince Flynn, called American Assassin.

Vince Flynn's American Assassin

There are some who have read the series and have enjoyed it, and I even think my father has found the spy/espionage plot intriguing. However, I couldn’t really get into it due to several reasons, including a whole implausible “CIA Messiah” role the  author has created, sort of like the Mary Jane/Wesley Crusher of the Political Fiction world (with no disrespect to Wil Wheaton, the actor who played Crusher and one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter).



Anyway, in the book, the character Mitch Rapp is apparently in perfect physical health and condition, is on a personal mission to get back at the painfully obvious “bad guys”, and Oh No! His one minor flaw is he has never shot a gun! But no big deal guys, within a day or so he could shoot the wings off a fly 500 yards award. LOLZ!

But back to my main point, the physical prowess. I admit I put the book down, but he apparently pulls off flying arm bars whenever he damn well pleases after training a year at a BJJ academy (which they call a dojo. Sigh.) and beating the hell out of everyone he rolled against. Another character in the book come up with some BS answer that he is was a super lacrosse player which contributes to his superhuman athletic prowess and impossible combat skills. Including practically becoming a BJJ black belt in about a year. And that’s when I became “that guy”, folks. I  became the practitioner of the sport they referenced in a book and (nearly) got offended. I think I would have been more offended if the physical attributes of this character hadn’t been so exaggerated.

I know this guy is successful. I get it: Vince Flynn’s doing what he loves, he’s made a product that people love and I wish him nothing but the best. Even if Glenn Beck is endorsing the book on the jacket, which would normally make me run for the hills. However, this is just absurd. I am pretty sure the writer saw an MMA fight, asked what the ground fighting was, got his answer and thought it was a great plot characteristic. Again, I am fully admitting that I have become that guy. I just can’t get past the thought that as a jiu jitsu practitioner he would still have to take years to hone the muscle memory needed for the sport, martial art, however the hell you want to use the skills. I am not saying white belts aren’t capable of executing flying armbars. I’m just saying it takes tons of time and practice to not only execute something like that, but to see the opportunity for it, to understand to get a feel for what feels like a good position and what is a poor one, how high you need to jump, how soon you need to throw your leg over the head, and everything else that’s entailed.

I read a lot, and it just annoyed me. It annoyed me enough that I had to put the book down. Actually that’s a lie: I put the book down when the antagonists basically embodied the caricature of what the Republican party no doubt thinks of when the word “Muslim” or “Islam” is mentioned. To me a good antagonist is one that you don’t agree with, but you can understand their motivations. And good protagonists are ones that develop through a plot: they are beaten down, they are mere mortals like the rest of us, but they have the courage and fortitude to struggle on to achieve what seems to be damn near impossible.

Ok, I’m done.


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