Commentary 13: No, For The 13th Time

If the deleted scene at the 1946 World Series is the “lost chapter,” then the Hearts tournament would be the “found chapter.” Why? Because I forgot to write it the first time through. It was in my original notes and outline, but for some reason I skipped over it when doing the first draft in Luxembourg. I don’t completely remember why, but my best guess is that I suddenly saw Local Boy at the end of the tunnel (something that wasn’t in my original plans) and got so excited I ran with it.

Funny to accidentally skip over what is arguably one of the more important chapters due to the revelation towards the end. As a result, I think the way it bridges in and out of the narrative feels really forced and wedged in. I rewrote the intro and outro multiple times to make it more seamless. But when a few early readers I quizzed on it didn’t seem to notice or have a problem with it I left well enough alone.

Other tidbits:

  • “We share a wall” is a nod to a common point of contention between my old college roommates Nate Pepper and Chorski.
  • Dual memory syndrome exists here to further the theme, hint that something will “change” in this scene, and as an excuse to squeeze in my favorite Violent Femmes lyric. His ineptitude with this girl can also be considered a link to the chapter title.
  • The “typical party fashion” paragraph on late arrivals and overstayed welcomes describes every choir party at the CarriageHaüs.
  • I toyed with having Bowlingus be the friend who introduced Nelson to the fold, but thought it was too far fetched to have him also be an East Coast transplant and a coworker at the music ‘zine.
  • We really did hold a Hearts tournament similar to this once, and I really don’t know what we were thinking in regards to the rules and format.
  • Hearts play by play used to be more detailed, but I figured readers would be bored by it and trimmed it back. Here’s a trivia question though: based on the score described after the first hand of the qualifier (third place, two behind second and five off the lead), there is only one mathematical possibility as to what the actual scores were. Can you figure it out? (Answer in the comments.)
  • Nelson’s attempt at cheating was a very late addition to the plot, and one my wife strongly disagrees with. Compromise was pairing it with a comparison to the narrator in a later chapter.
  • More on cheating: on the surface hiding the queen is a fairly lame way to cheat. He’d obviously get caught if the queen just “vanished,” so in reality he counted it in his score and palmed it for the next hand. With that in mind, it’s actually somewhat clever.
  • There are 33 known musical references in this chapter.

Read Chapter Thirteen Online

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