Zoe raised her coffee cup. “Drink to it?”
Kate smiled at Zoe’s bedraggled hair and her hopeful expression. For the first time, she realized that Zoe might be okay.
“Not with coffee,” she said. “Let’s have a glass of wine.”
Zoe looked panicked. “Wine?”
Kate nodded. “French people make it from grapes. It comes in red or white.
Zoe frowned, trying the feel of the word in her mouth. “Wine…”
“Oh come on, said Kate. “It’s off-season. Live a little.”
This above conversation between Kate and Zoe (page 172) takes place at a pub early on in their relationship, when they are just starting to become friends. It’s also, as I can remember, one of the first times (chronologically) we see any of the athletes deal with alcohol.
Here Zoe is literally panicked, while Kate is the bold, calm, and experienced one. Later once (subtle spoiler alert) the rule change is announced, Zoe drinks half a bottle to feel brave enough to think about what the change meant (188).
I guess, as with last week, I’m interested in what happens when extremely disciplined athletes indulge in normal-people pleasures— both scientifically and psychologically. Last week it was sex, this week booze. With booze it seems Zoe is immature for her years: first panicked at the thought of “breaking the rules,” even during the off-season, and when Kate’s initiating, and later drinking to escape a stressful situation.
While reading Gold should we see the consumption of alcohol (or other drugs for that matter, if it comes up [honestly I haven’t gone past 200]) by an athlete as a warning siren of desperation and/or emotional stress, at least more so than we do in real life or even in other works of fiction? If so I think Cleave has set up a handy literary trick for telling his readers when he characters are experiencing intense emotion but never having to steer far from reality (booze is commonplace, especially in Britain). — Sam Schlinkert
The men’s road race on Saturday will commence cycling competition at the 2012 London Olympics, but track cycling doesn’t begin until Aug. 2, next Thursday.
OK guys. So it’s 3pm. Our plan on this here tumblr is for some of the nwk/beast editors involved in the book club to share their thoughts via submitted messages. You’ll see them coming through, published here on nwkbookclub. If you have a thought, or a question, that you’d like to add, just send us a message, reblog with a note, or submit your own post. If you don’t use tumblr and are viewing this on the front-end, you can leave a comment on the website (this post specifically), or tweet to @bookbeast. OK THEN. Let’s talk about GOLD.
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?