We find out a lot about Peter. He loves writing, enough so that he’s finished the first draft of a novel in his spare time. During his conversation with Mark we discover he’s resigned to taking the consulting job at his father’s firm–a job he thinks he’ll hate–starting after the first of the year.
Peter’s a good guy but seemingly unable or unwilling to stand up for himself. Mark functions as Peter’s ally, or even mentor, and together they conclude he should do what he loves (write) and get out of the business career. At least on the surface, it sets up the central conflict of the story between Peter and his parents.
On a deeper level, we that Peter is going to have to decide between the writing job he loves vs. the business job where he’ll make money. What will he choose? Money or happiness?
Chapter 2 – The Graduation Gift
Here we meet Peter’s parents (Robert and Nancy) and Peter’s girlfriend, Ashley. Their interaction with Peter and each other tells us a lot about each of them. And how about that Ashley?
I felt the scene was necessary to make Peter’s decision to tell them he wanted to write even more difficult. Like most heroes, he starts the story as a flawed character. Here we see how his flaws have hurt other people. At the very least, his parents have spent a fortune preparing an office for a son that may never work there.
Chapter 3 – Bertoldo’s, He Tells Them
More character development. When Ashley and Robert start trying to pick out what car Peter will drive for his new consulting job (and Robert wants to get started on Monday!) Peter finally tells his parents he doesn’t want to work at the firm and wants to be a writer.
Robert delivers one of my favorite lines in the book: “What in the hell makes you think you can be a writer?” and later, “And besides, there’s no money in it.” In many ways, those two lines formed the premise for the whole book. Is it possible to make a living writing novels?
My wife first read the book on a road trip. She laughed out loud at the crudeness of some of Robert’s lines in this chapter. Be a rock star. More money, more babes…no offense (to Ashley).
I also love how the chapter ends with Robert almost tricking Peter into the bullpen sessions and then getting him to agree that if he loses he has to work at the firm. Fair? Not hardly!
Chapter 4 – Everyone Positions
When Ashley finds out Peter won’t be rich like his father she dumps him as fast as possible. Robert assures Nancy he’ll use any means necessary to make sure Peter works at the firm. Peter and his best friend Mark team up in advance of the first bullpen.
My favorite scene in this chapter involves Peter’s dream of delivering pizza to an old girlfriend. She’s married to a wealthy doctor. When Peter tells her he’s a writer, she’s confused since he’s delivering the pizza.
We also get our first look at the three consultants and immediately find out the types of people they are.
Chapter 5 – Preparation
Peter makes the mistake a lot of us do. When he should have been preparing to argue about the business side of a writing career he went with what was more comfortable and read about writing technique. It was more fun for that week but left him ill-prepared for the first bullpen.
Structurally, we’re seeing one of Peter’s flaws again. Rather than face difficulties he always tries to take the easy way out. We suspect that he’ll never succeed at much of anything until he figures out that’s a flaw and fixes it.
Chapter 6 – The Bullpen
Peter tries to make the argument to publish traditionally and the consultants rip him to shreds. This is the first major attempt Peter makes to win, but he fails spectacularly. Another example of how if Peter doesn’t overcome his flaws he’ll never win.
Especially in the end of the chapter, I wanted Peter to absorb blow after blow and walk away feeling hopeless. I do believe that when most writers go the traditional route, they have little understanding of what they’re getting into.
Chapter 7 – A New Ally
We find out that Christine has such a strong sense of right and wrong that she can’t bear to withhold valuable information from Peter to win unethically. Structurally, she provides a contrast to Peter. In Christine, we see what Peter must aspire to be if he ever wants to succeed. We also see the seeds of a budding romance.
Chapter 8 – Bullpen Two
To be continued… 🙂