Sunday, August 14, 2011

Alaska Romance Novel Project: Oil Spill Edition

Of all the thing to romaticize, the Exxon Valdez tragedy is not one of them. Nothing has exemplified corporate greed and the environmental costs of resource extraction quite the way that horrific oil spill has. So. Imagine my surprise when I found a Romance Novel based on the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
My pearls, they were clutched. I chortled with outraged glee. Way to take a proverbial oily lemon and make some greasy lemonade. I included the cover so you knew I was not making this shit up. I mean really.

Our story focuses on Marie Vicenza, an insurance adjuster from The City By the Bay (only San Francisco ever, sorry any other city on any bay) who just can't shake the feeling that Captain Craig Saybolt didn't really crash the Northern Light (the Supertanker masquerading as the Exxon Valdez). She is motivated by a huge bonus if Craig is innocent and the chance to prove she can run with the big boys. The money would free her parents from financial peril and provide a college education for her teenage son, Tony. Oh, and Marie is Italian--from her ebony hair to her family's Italian Restaurant. Marie spends all her time pouring over court transcripts and a well-fingered photo of the arrogant captain. Sigh. He gets out of prison soon and Marie should try and catch him before he disappears.

Marie jets off to the beautiful burg of Anchorage in hopes of talking to Craig and discovering his innocence. She shares a cab with a group of dudes bound for the Alaska Bush Company. This is not important to the story at all, I just thought you should know there is actually a strip club in Anchorage called the Alaska Bush Company. It is as real as this Romance Novel about the Exxon oil spill.

Back to the Action. Marie meets Craig as he is escorted out of prison. He exudes authority and has big shoulders, the better to carry all of his angry baggage with. Cute l'il Marie accosts him and tries to give him a ride back to town in her car. Craig gruffly won't have it. He trusts no one especially some "cute girl" from the Insurance Company trying to send him up the river. This begins the game of perky cat and aloof, angry mouse. Marie chases Craig all over Anchorage until he finally talks to her. They hash out all the details of that Fateful Night and the coincidences of nearly the entire crew of the Northern Light ending up dead. Except for the two that are demolition experts.

Hmmm. Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.

Turns out nobody really liked old Craig. He is/was a hardass captain and didn't win any hearts and minds with his brusque manner. As a result, nobody would stand up for him at trial. Nobody believed Craig when he said he was knocked out by someone and the ship steered aground. Blah, blah, plot. innocence. Blah. Craig underestimates Marie's tenacity and virtuous intentions. She is doggedly earnest and optimistic. So much so that when he callously brushes her off, she chases him to Valdez. Like all novels in Alaska, Marie ends up the object of male attention and her paramour feels the need to punch a guy to defend her honor. She is miffed because she was in control and Craigy-weggy got in the way.

They decide to boat out to the site of the spill. Craig wanted to go alone but takes Marie in order to protect her from all the unsavory menfolk in Valdez. They boat out and he carries her to shore to poke around. Marie expresses her fear of the ocean. Craig grunts, "Women don't belong at sea." Oh, up yours Craig. They saunter on the beach that was destroyed by thousands of barrels of oil and both Craig and Marie have a sad about it. Oh! All that destruction for our consumerist lifestyle. They are very attracted to each other at the beach destroyed by corporate greed and criminal negligence.

Returning to Valdez, they continue to plot a course toward Craig's vindication and grow more attracted to each other. Marie makes a stereotypically appropriate dinner of spaghetti at Craig's shack of sadness and masculinity. There is some Swirling after Marie proves she cares and understands how tough life has been for Craig. The story now moves out of Alaska and back to The City, again the only City San Francisco, where Craig and Marie find new leads.

Are you tired of this story yet? Boy, I sure was. Who would frame such a hard working captain who was so good that he saved a bunch of downed pilots in 'Nam? (Of course he was in Vietnam.) Who was good enough to tell Marie's son, Tony, that prison wasn't full of Righteous Dudes. Who had to go out in the yard and chop wood to work off his attraction to Marie with real man labor. Craig, a real mensch.

It was all a ploy by a trio of Texas oil tycoons to discredit the Alaskan Pipeline. To force the government to shut down the Alaska operations in light of extreme environmental risks. Ha ha, what?

Craig get's his job back and Marie decides to move to Anchorage. But before Marie and Tony can move, Craig shows up an proposes! They are going to be married! They love each other! Yay happy ending and a moral. Blame Texas.