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From: Adam Stephanides <adamsteph@earthlink.net>
Subject: (urth) PEACE: Fool's Gold?
Date: Mon, 09 Jul 2001 16:19:34 

I was rereading the "Gold" chapter of PEACE, and in the light of the recent
discussion of RttW, a disturbing suspicion came to me.  Briefly, I suspect
that the conversations between Gold and Weer, or at least the second one,
never happened, but were invented by Weer.

While this may seem a completely off-the-wall idea, there are a number of
indicators pointing in this direction:

1) Is it really likely that a world-class forger would be living in
Cassionsville, and then boast of his exploits to a man who has tried to
expose him?

2) The unreliability of ostensibly factual accounts is a major theme of the
chapter: there's the diary itself; the account of the encounter between Mrs.
Doherty and Quantrill's gang (209, Harper hc), which seems to be an
objective third-person account, but turns out to be either an excerpt from
the diary or, more likely, Weer's improvisation on the passages read to him
by Lois; Blaine's memories, which contradict Weer's; and Gold's claim that
many old books are actually forgeries (226).

3) Gold refers to himself as "an artist, shaping the past instead of the
future," (231) which could apply equally well to Weer.

4) The main plot of the chapter is a search for gold which turns out not to

5) Gold lives on Mulberry St.  If you've read your Dr. Seuss, you'll
remember that the narrator of AND TO THINK THAT I SAW IT ON MULBERRY STREET
elaborated progressively more fantastic accounts of what he'd seen on that

So I suspect that the second conversation between Gold and Weer, and
possibly the first one as well, was invented by Weer as an apologia for his
own methodology in writing the manuscript of PEACE (which implies that he's
lied elsewhere as well).

For that matter, the treasure hunt plot is itself implausible when you think
about it, not to say melodramatic: Lois pulls a gun on Weer, when nothing in
her earlier behavior suggests she is likely to do this.  Weer spots the gun
("in a spot of moonlight" (218), takes it from her, and sleeps with it under
his pillow, presumably in case she should return at night to take vengeance.
When Sherry asks him about the gun, he tells her only that he's had it for a
couple of weeks and will get rid of it tomorrow, and this non-explanation
seems to satisfy her.  Moreover, the whole chapter draws heavily on the
hardboiled detective genre, as I wrote earlier.  To be sure, Smart's story
in "The Alchemist" is equally melodramatic and implausible, and dependent
upon literary/cinematic models, but that is presented as a story, while the
treasure hunt is presented as something that happened to Weer (the Doris
story is also told by someone else, and there is a hint that it's

Make no mistake: I'm a believer in Dan'l's principle that a narrator should
be assumed to be reliable unless there's good reason to believe otherwise.
But in this case I think there are too many clues pointing in the opposite


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