Sunday, April 03, 2022

Life Lately: The slap that was felt around the world

I mentioned The Lincoln Highway, Amor Towles’s brilliant new novel, two weeks ago. When I woke up to the news this week that Will Smith had hit Chris Rock at the Oscars, I began thinking about the book again.

We are introduced to Emmet on the book’s first page. He has just been released from a correctional facility and is being driven home by the warden. Before dropping Emmet off, the warden says to him:

“…from my time with you, I can tell that that boy’s death weighs heavily on your conscience. No one imagines what happened that night reflects either the spirit of malice or an expression of your character. It was the ugly side of chance”.

We find out later in the book that Emmet punched someone, one Jimmy, on the nose after he said mean things about Emmet’s father. Not unlike Chris Rock, Jimmy mocked someone who was important to Emmet – his dad. Like Will Smith, Emmet got upset and hit Jimmy on the face. And that’s where the stories diverge. Because in The Lincoln Highway, Jimmy falls back after a single punch, hits his head, and dies.