"If this were a Fillory novel- Quentin thought, just for the record- the house would contain a secret gateway to another world. The old man who lived there would be kindly and eccentric and drop cryptic remarks, and then when his back was turned Quentin would stumble upon a mysterious cabinet or an enchanted dumbwaiter or whatever, through which he would gaze with wild surmise on the clean breast of another world."
Well, that's obsessive. It would be nice if this world had therapists. Oh wait, it does, at least according to the second book. Okay, it would be nice if this world had useful therapists. What I think is particularly telling about this passage is that Quentin imagines the other world as being a better place. His world is dirty and depressing. Fillory is clean and adventurous.
No one comes to the door, so Quentin, flaunting the normal rules of etiquette, steps in on his own, obviously thinking of himself as a heroic, curious young man, rather than a depressed, neurotic high school senior.
"A staircase went up. On the left was a stiff, unused-looking dining room, on the right a cozy den with leather armchairs and a carved, man-size wooden cabinet standing by itself in a corner. Interesting. An old nautical map taller than he was took up half of one wall, with an ornately barbed compass rose."
Who wants to guess what happens next?
"The cabinet was enormous, so big you could climb into it."
Surprise! They find a dead guy! You were right!
Umm... you were right, weren't you?
This here is the first appearance of the paramedic. Let's take a gander at how Grossman describes her appearance.
"Her cheeks were flushed from crouching over the body. She might have been twenty-five at most, and she wore a dark blue short-sleeved button-down shirt, neatly pressed, with one button that didn't match: a stewardess on the connecting flight to hell."
AHA! One button that didn't match. Foreshadowing meter, +1.
I need a foreshadowing meter...
"Quentin wished she weren't so attractive. Unpretty women were so much easier to deal with in some ways-you didn't have to deal with the pain of their probable unattainability. But she was not unpretty. She was pale and thin and unreasonably lovely, with a broad, ridiculously sexy mouth."
You'll notice that Grossman feels the need to shove it down our throats when one of his female characters is attractive. Well, besides Alice.
So... faux-philosophical dialogue disguised as flirting.
"'Well,'" says the paramedic, "'you're supposed to keep them alive. Or that's what they tell us.'
'It must be hard.'
'The dead ones are a lot less trouble.'
So... foreshadowing meter, +1? You know, I might have overestimated my... readers? please tell me I have readers- a little bit. Prior knowledge of the book is not really necessary. My first liveblog, you know. I'm still kind of getting into the swing of things.
"She wore a shiny yellow enamel ring and some kind of fancy silver antique wristwatch. Her nose and chin were tiny and pointy. She was a pale, skinny, pretty angel of death."
Meter +1. You know, this meter might be more difficult to keep track of than I thought. So, Quentin is given an envelope which turns out to contain The Magicians, the first book of Fillory and Further, by the paramedic witch-lady. He opens it, and out blows a piece of paper. A note? An invitation? It flies into an overgrown community garden, and Quentin chases it.
"It crossed his mind that the note might just possibly contain the hot paramedic's phone number."
CHASE IT QUENTIN GO GET IT NOW
"Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw something flit past behind the bracken, large and pale, but when he turned his head it was gone."
Quentin pushes through the thickening garden, chasing the note. And suddenly everything is silent. Quentin closes his eyes and takes another few steps.
"When he opened his eyes again he was standing on the edge of a huge, wide, perfectly level green lawn surrounded by trees. The smell of ripe grass was overpowering. There was hot sun on his face."
Here it is summer, not winter. Here it is a cloudless day. Here there is a massive, beautiful, ornate stone house. And Quentin is unable to believe it. He thinks he's going insane. He sees one other person leaning against a nearby tree. He goes to talk to the teenager.
"'Is this-?' Quentin cleared his throat. 'So is this Fillory?' He squinted against the bright sun.
"The young man looked at Quentin very seriously. He took another long drag on his cigarette, then he shook his head slowly, blowing out the smoke.
"'Nope,' he said. 'Upstate New York.'"
Pfft, like Upstate New York isn't a magical land full of talking animals!