You can immediately feel Hawley’s fingerprint all over this story. The prose is so well crafted and pops with an energy.
“Grief. Death was not an intellectual conceit. It was an existential black hole, an animal riddle, both problem and solution, and the grief it inspired could not be fixed or bypassed like a faulty relay, but only endured.”
With the book’s ending, I had to decide if this was a 4 or 5 star review for me. The book leads you to believe there might be some diabolical plan to bring the plane down, some nefarious political or conspiratorial force. But ultimately, it was just a lonely broken man, boiling in his own pool of toxic masculinity, embittered by unrequited love.
At first, I felt this was too simple an ending, given the books masterful setup. But the more I thought about it, I feel that this ending is more true to life. Conspiracies rarely hold water (pardon the pun); tragedies often follow Occam’s Razor and the least resistive path. It’s entirely believable, actually, that a pathetic nobody copilot could indeed bring down a plane out of spite and anger.
Another great quote:
“How to describe the things we see onscreen, experiences we have that are not ours? After so many hours (days, weeks, years) of watching TV—the morning talk shows, the daily soaps, the nightly news and then into prime time (The Bachelor, Game of Thrones, The Voice)—after a decade of studying the viral videos of late-night hosts and Funny or Die clips emailed by friends, how are we to tell the difference between them, if the experience of watching them is the same? To watch the Twin Towers fall and on the same device in the same room then watch a marathon of Everybody Loves Raymond. To Netflix an episode of The Care Bears with your children, and then later that night (after the kids are in bed) search for amateur couples who’ve filmed themselves breaking the laws of several states. To videoconference from your work computer with Jan and Michael from the Akron office (about the new time-sheet protocols), then click (against your better instincts) on an embedded link to a jihadi beheading video. How do we separate these things in our brains when the experience of watching them—sitting or standing before the screen, perhaps eating a bowl of cereal, either alone or with others, but, in any case, always with part of us still rooted in our own daily slog (distracted by deadlines, trying to decide what to wear on a date later)—is the same? Watching, by definition, is different from doing.”