Friday, 3 October 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Ersatz Elevator, Chapter 5

Welcome to the second Chapter-by-Chapter post of the day. This one is the fifth chapter of the book and picks up after we left the children, heading down to dinner with Jerome Squalor.

What Happens?

Jerome takes the children out to dinner in a fish themed restaurant. He refuses to acknowledge the children’s suspicions that Gunther is actually Olaf. They get back to Dark Avenue to find a mystery worthy of Jonathan Creek, Esme saw Gunther out the door, but the doorman says he didn’t leave the building. This leads the children to having a very sleepless night as they worry about this latest development.

Thoughts as I read:

There’s quite a large picture on this page and it’s one of those ones that kind of interacts with the text on the page. It’s a man in a fish costume who is apparently one of the waiters at Cafe Salmonella. He’s got his tea towel over his arm and he’s holding a tray which the word ‘Five’ is sort of sitting on. The waiter does not look impressed with his costume.

Cafe Salmonella was located in the Fish District, which was a part of the city that looked, sounded, smelled, and – if you were to kneel down and lick its streets – probably tasted like fish.

Which is quite the bizarre opening for a chapter, and these books have some pretty strange openings. All the same, Snicket does kind of justify each of these points with the exception of the whole tasting like fish thing. We also learn that the name Salmonella does not come from the illness, but actually from the fish theme they’ve got going on there. Apparently Cafe Salmon wasn’t fancy enough for them, so they had to go for a name which would put most people off their dinner. Interesting technique.

And it’s a theme that they’ve gone completely overboard with at the restaurant. The salmon decorations I can handle, I could even get on board with the costumes to a degrees, but the vases of salmon on the table would really be a little too much for me. As for the menu; it’s all salmon and I really don’t think I need to know anything about salmon ice cream. I’m not a fish fan at all and this is making me feel a little queasy.

Let’s move on.

The children don’t have much of an appetite for any of this because after all they’ve got bigger fish to fry. See what I did there?

Jerome has moved on to accusing the children of being xenophobic. To illustrate his point, Jerome names famous people (and in Sunny’s case sharp-toothed animals) from foreign parts and asks if they would be afraid of them. The children do try to explain that they wouldn’t be afraid of these people because none of them are Olaf, though Sunny does come out with “Netesh” meaning “Of course I would! Mountain lions are wild animals”.

The children continue to press on Jerome, pointing out that the doorman hasn’t been much use – I’m guessing that the doorman is the hook-handed man. But Jerome gets upset at the prospect of people arguing. He demonstrates that arguments are useless, for example he hates salmon but where would an argument about that have gotten him. Klaus suggests that perhaps they would’ve had a meal they actually liked.

They head home in silence, after all, what’s the point of taking the discussion any further when Jerome just isn’t going to help them. Once they get back to Dark Avenue they are informed by the doorman that they’re not allowed up until the guest comes down. Jerome does suggest that perhaps he’s already on his way down, which takes quite a while, so eventually they’re allowed into the building, in the hopes that they’ll pass Gunther on the stairs.

The lobby’s been redecorated in their absence. I’d love to know who they use, they work fast! They’re going for an ocean theme in there now. I suspect that this is going to make the place look a little bit like a bathroom.

Anyway, they climb up and up and up and up. They do pass some people, but none of them are Olaf/Gunther, and the higher they go, the more sounds they hear of people getting ready for bed. Eventually they reach the penthouse where they discover that Gunther left ages ago, which is strange because nobody has seen him leave. And considering the size of the apartment, Olaf could be anywhere! Esme shrugs this off, as far as she’s concerned, Gunther has left and the doorman is lying.

Jerome walks the children to their rooms but they don’t feel like they’re going to get much sleep. They’ve got even more to worry about now than they did before Olaf/Gunther showed up. And worse, they’re all in their own individual rooms, so they can’t even get together to try and work things out.

We’ll pick this back up next week.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let me know what you think. :-)