The beginning of Adam Ross's first novel, Mr. Peanut, is extraordinarily alluring. He introduces the reader to David Pepin, a man who immediately falls in love with his future wife, Alice, in a college class on Alfred Hitchcock; but over the course of their thirteen-year marriage, David develops the morbid habit of fantasizing about her demise. The reader peers voyeuristically into his thoughts and sees what David never dares to speak out loud: Alice falling on the train tracks, Alice conveniently being struck by lightning, Alice crumpling under a fallen crane
The elements of suspense are well set up and the hostile yet sexual nature of their relationship contributes to a sense of the bizarre. Alice's painful obesity is David's delight: "She was not his wife but a giant she-creature, an overlarge sex pet: his to screw, groom, and maintain". Tension builds, ...
A MacGuffin is essentially a filmatic diversion, popular in thrillers, which tends to be the central focus of the film in the first act but later declines in importance - sometimes to reappear at the climax of the story, sometimes to be forgotten entirely. Alfred Hitchcock popularized the term "MacGuffin", but it was apparently coined by Hitchcock's Scottish friend, screenwriter Angus MacPhail. There is no official etymology of the word, but guff is slang for nonsense/baloney, the Mac part speaks for itself, and Hitchcock once illustrated the concept by telling a story about a mythical "apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands", which lends some to think that guffin is a play on the mythical griffin.
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