SOUNDTRACK: GARBAGE-Garbage (1995).
I was thinking about how IJ reminds me so specifically of a place and time (I instantly think of the apartment I was in when I started reading it). And there are also some discs that I was crazy about at the time too.
I very distinctly remember when the first Garbage single “Vow” came out. I remember seeing it in Newbury Comics [the absolute best record store chain, ever] on Newbury Street and it was plastered with stickers about how it was the new band from Butch Vig and he had produced every popular alt record in the 90s and blah blah blah. But so I basically got Vigged out and didn’t bother listening to it.
Strangely, I don’t remember what changed my mind about them. I assume I heard the first proper single “Queer” and instantly fell in love with the band.
It makes me laugh that the band was initially marketed as Butch Vig and two other high-profile producers got together and made this great music and they found this unknown Scottish woman to from the band. And then, shortly there after the band was Shirley Manson and three unknown guys. Heh, prettiness wins out.
Garbage was at a record store in downtown Boston that year. I went down, but went to the wrong location (Doh!) and by the time I got to the right one, the line was too long and I was told I wouldn’t get in. Alas. (Hey, I’ve still got my autographed poster from The Verve before they released “Bittersweet Symphony.”)
This album was in very heavy rotation at my house at the time. I must’ve listened to it 1000 times. But this is the first time I’ve listened to it in awhile. It’s hard for me to be critical of it since I know every nook and cranny. But listening to it today I think it is still pretty damned awesome. The vocals are tight and creepy/sexy. The songs are all solid rocking/catchy. And the production is superb (obviously).
Not a bum track on the whole release, even 14 years later.
[READ: Week of August 24] Infinite Jest (to page 729)
There has been much discussion here on the forums and here between me and Infinite Tasks about the IJ timeline. There is the pretty glaring observation that M.P. tried to kill herself on November 7th, was in the hospital for five days and then appears in Ennet House on November 8th.
In last week’s reading, the WYYY engineer is musing about M.P. He was told that she was hospitalized, and I considered that maybe that five day gap came BEFORE she tried to kill herself (for otherwise, how to explain that Mario missed her radio show sometime in late October?). And yet that doesn’t seem to jibe with the fact that she’s apparently in there for an overdose.
A new timeline issue may be cropping up in this week’s reading. A green Nunhagen-sponsored car appeared during the Escahton match. We learn this week that Steeply is driving a Nunhagen-sponsored car. But she arrives during the Hal/Stice tennis match, three days after Eschaton. Has she been trying to get into E.T.A. for three days? But, also, note that she left AZ, and Orin met the Swiss hand model (and Orin is having his second go -round with her during the match), early on the 11th (I think). So I don’t think Helen could have been at ETA during the Escahton match. Is there a second gunman green car?
This timeline stuff bugs me mostly because I feel like IJ is really fantastic. And I assume that DFW spent a lot of time on it. (Certainly more time that I am spending reading it!). I imagine him with charts and graphs and circles and arrows explaining where everyone is at any given time. Now, there are a number of conceivable explanations for the mistaken timeline:
- Most of the stories about Madame Psychosis are second-hand, so they could be wrong.
- There is ample evidence that people in this book are crazy and therefore not to be trusted.
- And of course, there’s always the possibility that DFW just screwed up.
If this final option is the reality, I won’t be devastated. I don’t think the book hinges on a few minor timeliness issues. But I will be a bit surprised. DFW seems like such a meticulous guy (I mean, geez, look at the detail he puts into his scenes) so it would be really surprising if he got timeline issues messed up.
There is always the possibility that these issues will be cleared up, after all, he ties up so many loose threads, but I suspect they won’t. And that’s okay. I won’t turn into Steeply’s father poring over every page and keeping a journal in little notebooks (that’s what the blog is for!)
It is incredible serendipity that I did the JOI filmography during this week as this week’s readings actually count on knowing a bit about it. And since I had just reevaluated it, I was aware of a thing or two during Hal’s viewing scene.
Week 10 starts off seeming like a lot of nothing is happening. There’s a few post-Event scenarios. Until we get to November 14th, and a whole lot goes on. A whole lot!
It begins with a detailed look at the by-now infamous match in which Stice almost beat Hal (at which Steeply was present, and basically deLint would not leave her side). The section starts off by showing how important the match was–Mary Esther Thode was dispatched on her yellow Vespa to drag Hal and Stice away from their warmups to come play.
There’s some heavy tennis descriptions here, and we see a few volleys in detail. I’ll spare you because DFW does it better.
Interestingly, in this very section, the narrator pans around to a bunch of the characters that we’re familiar with to discover just what they’re up to while Hal and Stice are working so hard (keeping in mind that the date is 11/11).
Gately is asleep; Poor Tony is feeling ill in the library bathroom (and the fact that he is brought up again must mean something, right?); Pemulis and Struck are at the B.U. Pharmaceutical Library (and it seems surprising that they would be there after apparently getting reamed out by C.T.). It’s also somewhat surprising (or maybe not) that they’re missing this match; Orin is having another go around with the “Swiss” hand model.
And we also find out the owner of that mysterious car that pulled up during the Eschaton debacle. (At least we assume it is the same driver. Although, that was three days ago, so why was Steeply, for it is she who is the driver, only now on the grounds of E.T.A.? Was she denied entry before? But wait, I thought she only left last night? Hmm, are there timeline issues here?)
During this intense match, there’s a nice moment between Stice and Hal in which Hal calls a shot for Stice that was too close to call. Stice tells him that Hal gets the next gimme. Steeply notes that they seem like friends, which deLint demurs.
As the match progresses, deLint informs Steeply that it’s really unlikely that she’ll be able to interview Hal, as the whole point of E.T.A. is to keep kids immune from having people interested in them. The focus should be tennis, not reporters. Steeply says that she’s really interested in asking Hal about Orin, so she should be allowed. DeLint says that if it were up to him, Steeply wouldn’t have even been allowed through the gates.
And then we get what is a huge graphic relief… three pages that are very short letters from Steeply to Marlon Bain. And each letter takes a full page with only a couple of lines on each…. All that white space it! It’s a chance to breathe…oh, wait, the third one has an endnote…which lasts three pages. This third letter is set up as a series of questions which we do not get to see, [Q, Q, Q (Q, Q[Q], Q, Q, Q), Q, Q (Q), Q, Q] and so the whole thing is kind of like Esquire‘s What I’ve Learned].
But what an endnote! We first encountered Marlon Bain in a discussion between Steeply and Orin. Orin and Marlon were friends before they attended E.T.A.; when J.O.I. founded E.T.A, Marlon was the first matriculated student. In the endnote we learn that Marlon Bain’s parents died in a freak traffic helicopter accident (hee). We also learn that he and Orin were inseparable until they started doing hallucinogens. Marlon admits that he was probably too young to do the drugs. And he feels this has led to his being more or less a hermit who works for Saprogenic Greetings (When you care enough to let a professional say it for you). Saprogenic, of course, means producing decay or purification.
Oh, and do note, this Endnote has Footnotes, and not further Endnotes as the other ones did. This stylistic change must be significant–I assume to indicate that it is from another writer?
Marlon Bain proves to be an unreliable source for a couple of reasons. The first is that he’s clearly crazy. The second is that he states he doesn’t actually like Orin so he may be biased and the third is that in his answer to Steeply’s final question, he addresses Steeply as Ms. Steeples, Ms. Steeley, Mrs. Starkly, Mrs. Starksaddle (!) and then Ms. Bainbridge (!!!). Nevertheless, the perspective he adds is enlightening.
He mentions that Avril was involved with a swarthy medical attache (which of course makes one think of the first Entertainment victim). He also states that Orin is a liar (or rather a manipulator of reality) but that he’s a terrible liar when he’s actually trying to tell a lie. There are two examples of Orin telling absurd lies to Avril: the first is when he and Marlon were smoking pot when they were supposed to be watching Hal and Mario. Orin tells Avril that they were home, but he was on the phone the whole time, which is why Avril couldn’t get through, When Avril says, but no, the phone wasn’t busy it just rang and rang, Orin replies, “I have no response to that.”
The second instance concerns the accidental driving/dragging death of Avril’s special dog S. Johnson (reminiscent of National Lampoon’s Vacation [R.I.P. John Hughes]). When Orin explains that he took the dog to Comm Ave for exercise, and a drunk driver ran over S. Johnson (I’m thinking there MUST be significance to this odd name although I don’t know what it is) and then backed over him and then forwarded over him, making the driver a pulverize-and-run, Avril again seems to believe him. And in both of these baldfaced lies, Avril reacted even more warmly to Orin, giving him no punishment and even hiding her sadness so that Orin wouldn’t see how upset she was.
This leads to an (unseen) question of whether or not Avril was an abusive parent. There’s a thread on Infinite Summer about whether Avril molested Orin. That’s not something I’m willing to speculate on. But Marlon’s answer about the abusive question (which seems to be filtered through his own parents):
Is it a sign of abuse if a mother produces a child who believes not that he is innately beautiful and lovable and deserving of magnificent maternal treatment but somehow that he is a hideous unlovable child who has somehow lucked into having a really magnificent mother?
It’s followed by his description of Orin’s impression of the Moms. He will:
assume an enormous warm and loving smile and move steadily toward you until he is in so close that his face is spread flat against your own face and your breaths mingle. If you can get to experience it–the impression–which will seem worse to you: the smothering proximity or the unimpeachable warmth and love with which it’s effected?
The E.T.A. scene resumes and we get a bit of insight into the psyches of adolescent boys: they like to go into tunnels and other underground locales, and they like having rules about who can join them in said tunnels. Hence, The Tunnel Club (and they use Robert’s Rules of Order to establish, well, order). Today, the boys of the Tunnel Club (who were all involved in the Eschaton debacle but who were not seriously injured) are on a recon duty in said tunnels. Ann Kittenplan was sent down there too, but the boys gave her a pass because they wanted her away (and because no girls allowed–not because they thought she was innocent). The boys are sent into the tunnels under E.T.A. (and there are quite a lot) to clean up trash and clear a path for the soon-to-be-removed Dome.
In truth, the boys love this. They enjoy scavenging around (and now they actually have a reason to be down there!). They are also on the trail of a “rat” or maybe “feral hamster” that Blott says is down here. And so, they turn off the lights and probe around with flashlights, collecting trash in Hefty trash bags (there is sure a lot of product placement for Glad in the year before The Year of Glad).
The whole scene acquires a sort of mini horror movie feel, what with the darkness in the tunnels and The Darkness vs Hal playing right above them (with all of the court squeaks and clapping muffled and distant). And there is a diversionary section about what the feral critters would be like (and that E.T.A. is so vermin-phobic that they spray the living daylights out of the place so that no one ever sees anything crawling around) and how awesome it would be if they (The Tunnel Club) found a rat or a feral hamster (they’d be heroes!) And the boys hear things. And feel things. And then smell things. And all of this seems like it might be building up to something very important. And then the boys stumble upon…
An old fridge that was never emptied.
It has bulging orange juice and mayonnaise among other gross things. And they haul ass out of the tunnel. Unless something comes of it, the whole scene turns out to be more like The Goonies than anything else: a nice spalsh of comic relief.
And then it’s back to courtside. We learn that Troelstch has been “calling” the match a little too loudly, and that Steeply is a bit weirded out by the guy.
But as soon as deLint leaves Steeply alone for a second, Thierry Pointrincourt pops over for a chat. Their chat is innocuous, all about tennis and stardom. We get told again about the pressures of tennis vs. other more team-related sports. And we get Thierry’s POV about various other aspects of the match in progress and the players in particular. Nothing is new in this scene.
Except that the whole dialogue (done in French and sort of Quebecois) has an undercurrent that suggests that Thierry is on to Steeply. Thierry never says or overtly indicates any of this; however, from the narrator (and from Steeply’s POV) we learn that Steeply is (often but not always) aware of Pointrincourt’s French going in and out of regional dialect. And that with her word choice in one single instance, Steeply believes that she is completely on to him: she is aware that he is a man and probably an agent. This is a wholly unexpected development as far as I’m concerned, and I can’t tell if it’s just a red herring, but it’s interesting to hear Steepley’s take on this character who we don’t know much about.
Then the calendar jumps to November 14th (all of the above was three days prior, don’t forget).
The heretofore unmentioned Matty Pemulis, Mike’s older brother, sits in the Manowar Man O’ War Grille [just correcting the spelling there, it’s not the metal band’s grill]. In addition to revealing that Matty is a prostitute, it is revealed that Matty’s father molested him when he was about 10 (Mike slept through it and knew nothing). While Matty is going over these facts in his head, he sees Poor Tony (!), green, thin and barely recognizable shambling down the street after two young girls. Oh, and a homeless lady dropped skirt and let fly a big steaming pile on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.
When we return to E.T.A. we focus on Hal for quite a while, something that hasn’t been done in many weeks. It seems that Hals’ on-court performance today may have been due to his giving up marijuana for 24 hours now. He goes to see Shtitt for solace but only finds deLint. So, he blows off everything and heads into Viewing Room 6 and puts in a whole bunch of Jim’s old films.
And this is where re-reading that whole filmography paid off. The scene mentions what films Hal watches, and we know many of them but it also mentions Union of Publicly Hidden in Lynn, a film that is not in the filmography Endnote (unless DFW didn’t fact check)!
It also mentions two films that I skipped over: Bye Bye to the Bureaucrat, which both Hal and Mario like (but which Hal tells Mario is goo), and which does seem rather touching (in a L.D.S. sort of way). And then Blood Sister: One Tough Nun, which Hal starts watching as a bunch of girls come into the room.
This is the first real inter-gender interaction we’ve seen at E.T.A. (aside from Eschaton) and it’s a funny scene for the teasing that goes on, and the observations about male/female dynamics. The girls tease Hal for almost getting beaten in his match, and he replies by spitting his disgusting Kodiak chew into a wastebasket very slowly. Hal is being kind of a dick but he does have some reasons (pot withdrawal, almost getting beaten on the court) And he did just want to be alone after all. So why didn’t he lock the door? Because no doors have locks at E.T.A.
And, evidently Steeply is roaming the building looking for him.
Some of the younger boys also come into the room and soon everyone is engrossed in the film. And more about Blood Sister in a moment.
Because we have to reintroduce Poor Tony Krause! (Rumors (by me) of his death were greatly exaggerated!) That earlier mention with Matty Pemulis it turns out was AFTER his seizure. That’s right, he’s not dead at all. After some interesting looks and comments at the hospital, he was released of his own free will and is making a beeline for the Antitoi’s store (evidently if DFW doesn’t explicitly tell you that someone is dead, you can assume they are not).
Poor Tony is tailing the two girls in front of him. And they both seem out of it enough that they would be very good candidates for a purse napping (although the Antitoi’s store is only a few blocks ahead, so I’m not sure where he’d run to (I wrote before having gotten to the next scene with Poor Tony)).
There’s also some more backstory to Poor Tony’s acquaintance with the Antitois. They met at Ryle’s in Inman Square at a Gender-Dysphoric Night (I had brunch there once, it was delicious; it was not a Gender Dysphoric brunch). Bertraud convinced Poor Tony, Lolasister, Susan T. Cheese, Equus Reese, Bridget Tenderhole and Stokley ‘Dark Star’ McNair to participate in the ‘Front-Contre-O.N.A.N.isme.’ They all entered Harvard Square’s Sheraton Commander Hotel all dressed in identical red leather coats and auburn wigs. Six women joined them dressed in the same way, and they all milled about in the lobby. An androgynous insurgent then burst in and threw violet-colored waste all over the Canadian Minister of Inter-O.N.A.N. trade who was addressing the press. And then everyone scattered, causing havoc on the streets of Harvard Square. (No one was caught).
A quick jumpcut to Ennet house reveals that (according to Geoffrey Day’s research) lower class men nickname their penises. Oh, and that Lenz has been given the boot (and he is almost sort of missed by both Day and Kate Gompert, although not really).
And speaking of Kate Gompert, the next section contains some of the most psychically despairing reading I’ve done in quite a while. It concerns the various levels of depression, from anhedonia to psychotic depresssion. It seems that most of the time Kate Gompert, is simply anhedonic, she feels nothing. Hal, too, feels like this much of the time.
And in this little diversion to Hal we get a look into his psyche where we see….nothing. Hal isn’t so much a dick as a void. And, now that he is actually thinking about it, he realizes that he is lonely.
But the anhedonia that Hal feels is nothing compared to the Psychotic Depression that Kate feels sometimes. It’s the thing that has her on suicide watch (and apparently she signed something saying she wouldn’t kill herself?). Which, she admits is a stupid thing because when things get really bad, no agreement is going to keep you from going over the edge. The analogy to a building on fire really struck me. It’s not that you WANT to jump out of the 25 story building window, but when the fire is getting closer and closer, well, the window seems like a better option.
This section was also noteworthy to me because for a couple of lines, “we,” the readers are invoked: “since we (who are mostly not small children) know it’s more invigorating to want than to have, it seems.” (694). The narrator is talking about what the under 16s think about why J.O.I. killed himself. And they think it has something to do with attaining goals, like James had accomplished everything he wanted to so what was left? (sort of like how the kid ranked #2 feels twice as worthwhile as the kid ranked #4). But they have no idea about real psychic despair .
And Kate,who is in a state of tolerable existence is walking through Inman Square on the way back from an N.A. meeting. She’s walking with Ruth von Cleve who has hair that looks like a dry tangled cloud (it almost looks like her hair grew her head instead of the other way around) and who talks non-stop, which is driving Kate spare. Ruth is new to Ennet House and was sent there by State Services when her baby was discovered (alive) in an alley (with the hospital bracelet still on, so Ruth was easily identified). And, of course, as we all figured out, these are the two women that Poor Tony is sneaking up on (if he actually snatches thier purses he will only get bus fair and an NA card).
And then there’s another set of quick scenes of what else is going on: Troeltsch is in his room announcing a wrestling match (his roommates have all taken off); Pemulis is fiddling with a ceiling tile; Avril is trying to find out some information about a company on Blasted Expanse Blvd (the address of Moment magazine, according to Steeply) and Schtitt and Mario are racing down heartbreak hill in the sidecar.
Now, there is no way that this is intentional, but it turns out that if you follow my absurd connection to the Boston marathon from a few weeks back, during this week’s reading you would be reaching Heartbreak Hill. Is there even the remotest possibility that DFW realized that at about 75% of the way through the book, he should mention heartbreak hill, which is about 75% of the way through the Marathon? I am fairly certain there is not this possibility. However, with this book you start seeing connections everywhere, so there’s a fun one. [And for those of you curious about what the hell I’m talking about
- Infinite Summer is 13 weeks
- The Boston marathon is 26miles, so split it in half.
- We’re at week 10 (mile 20) and as Wikipedia helpfully says:
- Heartbreak Hill is an ascent over 0.4 mile (600 m) of the Boston Marathon course, between the 20 and 21 mile marks.”]
And Hal and co. (which, the company, has grown more numerous) are now all engrossed in Blood Sister (except Hal whose mind is elsewhere…mostly trying to figure out the name of the actor in J.O.I.’s films (Phillip T. Smothergill, who often plays what I think of as the “Hal” character in J.O.I.’s movies). There’s also an amusing comment about how since Hal was wasting his time watching films he wasn’t aware of what his best friend (Pemulis) had gotten up to. So, when she was messing with the ceiling tiles, who knows exactly what was going on there. Hal informs one of the girls, Bridget, that Rite Aid is having a clearance on emetics
Blood Sister was JOI’s attempt at mocking A.A. He had gone to a meeting or two at one point and was very turned off by the God aspect. This movie with its recidivism and revenge and all being set in a church is fairly obvious symbolism. And Bridget makes critical analyses throughout the film (to the dismay of the other viewers, although Hal finds her comments rather perceptive, actually).
The parallels between Marathe/Steeply and the nuns in Blood Sister are also interesting: The basic premise of Blood Sister is that a street-wise Torontonian girl became a nun (and is now Mother Superior). She saved a streetwise girl from a life on the streets and that girl is now Vice Mother Superior. V.M.S. saved a streetwise girl from a life on the streets and she is now Blood Sister. And, Blood Sister herself has saved a punk girl who has become a nun (call her young nun).
It turns out that V.M.S (the one who converted Blood Sister) has been dealing drugs out of the confessional. And that young nun herself was a buyer from V.M.S. When M.S. learns what is happening she kills young nun to save V.M.S. (it’s even more confusing with all of the “shes” in the original). Blood Sister seeks revenge, and when she discovers it was M.S. they have a final confrontation. But when the battle commences, and M.S. is about to kill Blood Sister, V.M.S. jumps in and smites M.S. (The betrayals that go on here do rival the triple/quadruple spying that Marathe is engaged in, but I’m not entirely comfortable trying to count them exactly).
And then, we’re at a Cocaine Anonymous meeting. Joelle van Dyne is sitting through the meeting after having visited Gately in the hospital. Gately is having all kinds of delusions because he is being pumped full of demerol (Doh!). But JvD is reflecting that she really likes Gately and is even considering lifting her veil for him (which she hasn’t done for anyone in a long time).
The C.A. meeting has a sob story that actually made me cry (this one is because I too have a little boy and girl at home and the thought of them going through what this guy put his family through was heartbreaking). The general deal is that he blew his last cash on crack and his little girl was forced to eat the last food in the house.
But before we are overcome by sadness, we are right in the middle of a chase scene.
A few weeks ago I commented that I felt like so many things were adding up, I couldn’t imagine any more revelations coming (even though I knew there were some 500 pages left). And now, I feel like so many exciting things are being revealed at such a frenetic pace that I can’t believe there are still 250 pages left! Wait till you see: Poor Tony; Lenz; the Wheelchair Assassins closing in on the Entertainment…the excitement builds and builds!
Poor Tony has caught up to Kate and Ruth and snatched their purses. Ruth’s cheap purse came away easily, but Kate’s more expensive one held on tightly which meant that Kate got flung into a light post for her troubles. She is in pretty bad shape, trying to remain upright and not vomit. I also thought it was interesting that in this section the dominant color is violet (“Her whole vision is queerly violet”) in contrast to the earlier Hal scene in which everything seemed to be blue.
Meanwhile, Ruth gives chase and very nearly catches him. She snatches his boa, and is just about to grab his jacket collar when he quickturns into the alley near the Antitoi’s place. (Where he was headed before his seizure, if we can remember back that far). He is very nearly there and to presumed safety when we cut to the fact that the Wheelchair Assassins are still in the Antitoi’s place searching with a fine-toothed-comb for the Entertainment.
Oh, and then comes Lenz. Yes, he’s back! Lenz thought being kicked out of Ennet House was his death sentence, but it turned out to be a “blessing.” He’s wearing a sombrero with pompoms hanging off it and has a large fake mustache and all manner of crazy accoutrement that he swiped from a Fine Apparel mannequin. And in this fascinating disguise he is hot on the tails (after making sure they were not on his tail) of two fireplug-sized Chinese ladies. In a rambling and racially offensive ranting monologue Lenz notes that Orientoid women carry all of their belongings in their bags because they’re not allowed to use banks, and that their language is proven to be more primitive than English.
And since these two ladies are scuttling like insects, they are impossible to catch, especially when you can’t feel your feet and your glasses–which turn to sunglasses when they encounter bright lights–keep turning to black after each streetlight you walk through. And as I’m recounting this, the visuals are even funnier in my mind: Lenz in a sombrero, everyone giving him a wide berth, him stumbling along with his glasses blackening out every few steps, trailing these two fireplug-sized, bag-laden old ladies.
Meanwhile, the Wheelchair Assassins have been going through every tape in the joint, with victims willingly sacrificing themselves for the cause. They have found many blank tapes (which the endnote suggests may not be actually blank…I got a little technologically confused as to whether or not they brought a player that could actually play a Master tape).
They are displeased to find the blank tapes labeled ‘IL NE FAUT PLUS QU’ON PURSUIVE LE BONHEUR [It is no longer necessary to pursue happiness] which have been placed in street-displays all around the city (aha!). And we finally learn that these displays were created by the Wheelchair Assassins rivals, the F.L.Q. (who are interested in blackmail for the Convexity’s return).
And so mostly the Wheelchair Assassins are just sitting around watching Brazilian porn. (They have also stuffed the Antitoi brothers (who are now beginning to get a bit funky) in big plastic bags).
An Endnote tells us that M Fortier is planning on subjecting Marathe to the Entertainment as soon as they find the Master. Not because he knows that Marathe is choosing his wife over his country, but because Fortier was sort of overseer on the night that Marathe’s brothers were killed in the train-leaping game (jeux les prochain train). Fortier fears that Marathe will seek revenge so he is going to beat him to the punch. (Marathe is currently with them in the Antitoi’s store, by the way).
And, we learn that the goal of the Wheelchair Assassins is to subject gullible U.S.A. people to the Entertainment, essentially crippling the country. This, they assume, will cause the U.S.A to retaliate in a big way against Canada. Which in turn would make Quebec not just allowed but required to secede.
And that night Joelle has a dream that Gately is her dentist in gleaming whites. But her teeth are disgusting (an outcome from smoking crack) and are sharp little canines. (This is the second dream about teeth in the book, by the way).
Oh, and then a minor thing: THEY FOUND THE SAMIZDAT! That’s right, the Wheelchair Assassins’ determination paid off. They lost two members but confirmed the copy of the Entertainment that was stolen from M. DuPlessis’ place. This copy is Read-Only. There is the implication that the Master copies physically look different than the Read-Only ones, and that anyone who had found a Master would have known it was a Master copy right away. But that seems different than the idea that the tapes were just at different speeds…. Also, Noreen Lace Forché basically saved the country by making her distributed videos Read-Only. Thanks, anti-pirating lady!
I also enjoyed learning about Bôf, the audible shrug.
After the Assassins confirm the samizdat, they use the WYYY engineer as a guinea pig. They have secured all the information they know he will give, so they place him in front of the Entertainment. After watching a few times, they tell him that if he wants to watch again, he must cut off a finger each time (ew!) (The scene from Bound always comes to mind when fingers and clippers are mentioned).
But even more interestingly/importantly, there is what seems to be a throwaway comment (as if such a thing existed in this book) :
An employee at the Academy of Tennis of Enfield had been recruited and joined the Canadian instructor and student already inside for closer work of surveillance. [726, emphasis mine]
Assuming then that Steeply was right and that Pointrincourt was on to him, it makes sense that she is an agent. But what about the student? I’m speculating that it is John Wayne (especially with the Page 17 section with Wayne helping dig up Himself’s head), but also because of the way he behaves around everyone, quiet, reserved, just observing. Plus there’s that section where James recruited him that hints that he is reticent about being in the states.
And yet he’s so good at tennis!
Technically, this last paragraph squeaks past the spoiler line, but heck, it’s the last small section before a very lengthy bit, so I’m including it here:
Lenz has successfully purloined the bags from the Chinese ladies. And he is running down an alley with his goods. He leaps over vagrants and crackheads (who throw a rock at him) while he looks for a clean, safe place to dump his spoils.
I can’t believe how exciting this section is. There’s so many threads intertwining, and now with the Entertainment found…. Wow. It has not been easy to wait for the next week’s reading!