Coen, Ethan (in “Gates of Eden”; Harper Perennial; Reprint edition, 2008, ISBN 9780061684883)

Ethan Coen’s Destiny makes a glorious spectacle of the modern male. It holds him up, with all his incertitude and humanity, against the older notion of manful men who have stood in battle, consume bourbon with their steaks and know how to throw a punch. In Coen’s protagonist Joey Carmody, like “The Dude” Jeffery Lebowski before him, the reader observes a modern man like himself (or some man she knows) trapped in an older story, fumbling around in Phil Marlow’s footsteps with his modern enlightenment and uncertainty.

The other characters, aborigines of their older world, remind us again, in the Coen brothers’ way, of the ultimate unfathomableness of the men and women around us. They talk but don’t listen. They argue for no reason. Reason cuts no ice with them, nor does recognition of their own ridiculousness ever tarnish their assurance. Though many of them adore their own voices too well not to expound their motivations to us, we can never guess how they will act or react from one moment to the next.

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