Week Eleven – Pages 728 – 795 (endnotes 303 – 332)
As the reading winds up (only two weeks left!) I am appreciative of how DFW has left a few major details to the last quarter of the book: this week we finally get the story of Joelle’s disfigurement, the details of Marathe’s wife. As well, Marathe infiltrates Ennet House and gets drunk with Kate Gompert, we see the Incandenzas through Joelle’s and Molly Notkins’ perspectives, Mario asks about sadness, Hal comes clean, and Pemulis gets the boot.
November 14 – Yours Let You Keep Your Teeth?
As Marathe infiltrates Ennet House as an “addicted and deformed” Swiss, we hear snippets of conversation between two former cult members, and get his perspective on the house and the other residents, one that paints a lurid picture of the residents, as “a man without hands and feet tried to navigate a stairway…a tormented-appearing man scuttled like a crab…another young girl seemed to remove her eye from her head and placed it in her mouth..” (pp. 730-731).
We also meet Selwyn, who believes the residents are the 26 ‘metal people’ that exist as we live our Matrix-like existence inside a room with “pro-jections” that change where we think we are.
Once Marathe realizes he has found Madame Psychosis, and also discovers there are several smiley-faced cartridges in Pat Montesian’s office (donated from ETA) (p. 750), he is torn between sharing that info with the AFR and USOUS. We also learn that Marathe’s stomach is not really in the game anymore, and he hasn’t really firmed up his plan on how to extricate himself from his quadruple-agent work. He ends up in a bar, drinking heavily. By coincidence, Kate Gompert has also come in to the bar after her run in with Poor Tony. Here we finally get the story of Marathe’s wife. At the end, Marathe offers Kate a glimpse of the Entertainment (p. 782). Is this just a theoretical conversation, or would he really take her to it if she said yes?
Joelle remembers her introduction to the Incandenzas
As she cleans her room at Ennet house (presumably while Marathe is downstairs? This section is not date-stamped), Joelle – prompted by her feelings for Gately – recalls her first meetings with James, Avril et al, as well as more background on her own Personal Daddy. At first Orin “felt his mother was the family’s pulse and center, a ray of light incarnate” (p. 737), so something has markedly changed to shift his opinion of Avril to the absolute nadir of the other side.
Orin feels his father is unreachable, an “expressionless stare from a great height” (p. 737). Joelle gradually appreciates JOI’s filmmaking, and gets the Howling Fantods from Avril for reasons that are maddeningly difficult to articulate (this seems to be Avril’s super-power).
November 11 – Hey Moms? Mario and Avril talk about sadness
There are remnants of Avril and John Wayne’s dalliance in Avril’s office as Mario asks her “How can you tell is somebody’s sad?” Specifically, if someone is acting ‘even less low than normal. But still these suspicions are in your mind.” (p. 764). There is a discussion about existentialism, about having “a fragile sense of yourself as a person. As existing at all.” (p. 765).
November 12 – Hal comes clean to Mario
From Mario’s “All last night people were coming up going where is Hal” (p. 770) I assume this conversation is happening the evening of Nov 12. Here Hal admits his addiction to pot, and asks Mario for advice. He also talks about masks (vis a vis Pemulis and his lies to the ONANTA guy) and asserts that monsters are not “faces in the floor” but “the type of liar where there’s no way to tell” (p. 774).
November 17 – Hal visits Ennet House
Johnette opens the door to a young boy who’s “talking had a burbly, oversalivated quality Johnette knew all too wicked well” (p. 787). There is a teaser here with the sentence “Much later, in subsequent events’ light, Johnette F. would clearly recall the sight of the boy’s frozen hair slowly settling.” (p. 787)
November 17 – Two Jump-Cut Endnotes (324 / 332)
Not attached to any text, we have two endnotes that float untethered, both on November 17. Pemulis tries to give Possalthwaite a pep talk on math at the one sure thing. We also learn that Wayne was in Pemulis’ room grabbing some of Troelstch’s Seldane, making Pemulis nervous, as he had circulated a leaflet about Avril and Wayne’s tryst. (p. 1069). At the end of this note, Stice drops in to say that “Troelstch’s got Wayne on the air and Wayne has lost his mind.” (p. 1072).
The second endote jumps a head a few moments, as Pemulis is being raked over the coals by DeLint. Wayne’s “Seldane” was actually some of Pemulis’ Tenuate, and now the prorectors have Pemulis over a barrel. And Avril is not taking his blackmail anymore.
Molly Notkin tells all…or does she?
We learn a lot of necessary information that has been a long time coming from Molly Notkin. She outlines the accident that deformed Joelle (another Thanksgiving!), provides more detail about the contents of IJ and claims that Avril and Orin were potentially lovers. She also says that JOI had a “belief in a finite world-total of available erections” (p. 789), which we know was a trait she attributed to her own boyfriend (P. 220). So what kind of reliable narrator is Molly?