Before the Fall

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I read a hard copy, an eBook and listened to the audio depending on what was convenient.

Fun Fact - the "Montauk Monster" (pg. 218) appears to have been a real-ish thing. It has it's own Wikipedia page.

I enjoyed the book but found it unnecessarily crass in many parts. As if it were a movie trying to avoid a PG rating. I mean, I know lots of people speak in vulgar ways on a daily basis and perhaps it adds a touch of realism to the characters, but when there is a scene with two men in the bathroom and the narrator tells us the detailed steps of how a man uses a urinal, including shaking his "d***" (pg. 125, loc. 1691) I find it unnecessary. Even girls engage in crass talk in one scene. (pg. 330)

On a scale of 1 - 5 (5 being a lot of examples/instances):

Sex: 3

Religion: 0

Gruesome: 3

Suspense: 0

Morality: 2

Traditional: 3

Sex - a young woman tells a guy she's not wearing underwear (pg. 234) Stereotypical newsman thinks about his previous conquests. (pg. 169, loc. 2275 & pg. 170, loc. 2294)

Religion -

Gruesome - a lawyer references putting his arm up someone's rear end (pg. 143, loc. 1965) Description of Charlie getting beat in the locker room. (pg. 369)

Suspense -

Morality - Man makes a bet offering sex with his wife as the prize but then says it didn't count because a girl won. (pg. 53) Man comments he couldn't get good sex until he got his first job on air. (pg. 55) Layla is promiscuous with Scott. (pgs. 236 - 239) Guy talk about an erection. (pg. 243)

Traditional - reference to single moms having gay friends donate sperm (pg. 221) A couple of references to drug use.

In "Imago" and "Countryside" Scott suddenly seems to be a deeper thinker. Even being an artist, I hadn't found him all that complicated until these chapters. When the press was asking him questions his answers seemed to be thinking of all possible angles instead of doing what most people do which is just fire off the first thing that comes to mind which provides the press with plenty of things to analyze and criticize later. It seemed unnatural and unrealistic.

I enjoyed the insight into what the black box of an airplane cockpit recorder shows. (pg. 345) I was annoyed by the person who checked out the library book previously and felt the need to make pencil edits correcting the grammar on character quotes. If it was explanation, sure. But when there are quotes around it, it doesn't have to be perfect because people don't speak perfectly - that makes the characters seem more real.

Discussion Questions

Scott thinks fate led him to the San Francisco beach, to swimming, to save the boy. (pg. 30)

When have you seen fate at work in your life?

Unlike CNN or MSNBC, ALC would shape the news and push their agenda.

Today it seems that all news stations do this. Does the author have an agenda he is pushing by having an entire chapter comment on how news stations operate?

"Fathers, on the other hand, were there to toughen children up, to say Walk it off when mothers would hold them if they fell. Mothers were the carrot. Fathers were the stick." (pg. 138, loc. 1889)

Is this how parenting happened for your family?

"Everything in the universe appears to move in a circular pattern, celestial objects rotating in orbit.

Forces of push and pull that dwarf the industry of man or beast. Even in planetary terms we are small - one man afloat in an entire ocean, a speck in the waves. We believe our capacity for reason makes us bigger than we are, our ability to understand the infinite vastness of celestial bodies. But the truth is, this sense of scale only shrinks us." (pg. 182, loc. 2445) How do you feel about our relevance to the universe?

"You have kids and you think I made you, so we're the same, but it's not true. You just get to live with them for a while and maybe help them figure things out." (pg. 184, loc. 2474)

How have your ideas about parenting changed over the years?

Maggie worried young Rachel was depressed because she'd read an article that stuck in her thoughts.

She hoped for a "Big Idea that could tie all the little things together - the poor sleeping, the shyness - or maybe she was just allergic to wheat. This is what motherhood was, one fear eclipsed by another." (pg. 225)

What did you worry about as a young mother?

Pilot James Melody loved his service-oriented job and muses that "only in the modern world did people believe that they should be the ones receiving." (pg. 306, loc. 4134) In what ways do people still give today, contrary to James' ideas? James liked the idea that, "It's hard to be sad when you're being useful." (pg. 306)

Can you think of any times you've been useful and sad? What do you do to be useful that also brings you joy?

Scott always refers to JJ as "the boy" or "Buddy", even after he learned his name, why?

Theme Ideas

Serve egg salad and iced tea like Scott remembers eating for lunch before the crash. (pg. 50)

Serve mimosas like when the pilot (James Melody) met his mother (Darla) at the restaurant in California.

Serve three types of berries in green baskets like at the farmers market - "blueberries...blackberries and gum-red raspberries". (pg. 152, loc. 2095)

While Sarah was at the farmer's market, Ben enjoyed "bagels with lox, heirloom tomatoes, capers, and a local artisanal cream cheese...and a cappuccino." (pg. 156, loc. 2149)

Serve shaved ice, especially cherry, like young, single Maggie enjoyed after work. (pg. 221)

Serve thick-sliced tomatoes with sea salt and olive oil like David and Maggie enjoyed. (pg. 222)