Just on the other side of an unpainted metal door, five thousand men, women, and children were chanting her name.
A lot can be extracted from those 20 words. What do you think of the first sentence?
From the very beginning Cleaves establishes what he does best: filing a report on the texture of the professional sporting experience. An “unpainted” metal door - how fine that adjective is. He goes on to describe the bench Zoe and her coach are sitting on, which has “the blue protective film still on it.” You can practically smell fresh plaster. That’s what the Olympics are like: you spend a lot of time waiting in unglamorous rooms like this.
And then there is the fervent nationalism, the hero-worship, the crowds and power. All of this was turned into a symbol of Zoe’s inner state.
I thought Cleaves explored these two themes very well in the opening scene.
What’s your favorite part so far?