Week Four – Pages 211-283 (endnotes 73-92)
This week we get a deeper introduction to DMZ, follow Madame Psychosis as she has Too Much Fun one more time, discover the gruesome details of JOI’s suicide, and spend more time both at E.T.A and Ennet House. We also now know what B.S. years the book is occurring in. And there are a lot of wheelchairs.
So to recap:
DMZ is seriously dangerous stuff, but with bellbottoms!
Pemulis has secured a fairly large amount of DMZ, in tablet form, from Antitoi Entertainment, run by a couple of Nucks (*any Canadians consider that a slur? I know I don’t). I wanted to yell at Hal as he was considering what constitutes a dose. NO – Don’t take two!
It’s November 7th YDAU and Joelle van Dyne, aka Madame Psychosis, is planning on killing herself
In a large three-part section, JvD is going to kill herself at Molly Notkin’s party. The first section is a description of her walk through Boston collecting the equipment she needs to freebase (cigar tube, pepsi bottle, etc)…
Until we are briefly interrupted to discover…
We now know what year it is:
As I mentioned last week, with the full list of subsidized years published (p. 223) we can now place the novel in actual time. Unless my math is poor, James Incandenza, born in 1950, died at age 54, in the year 2004, aka Year of the Trial Sized Dove Bar. That means subsidized time began in 2002, with the Year of the Whopper, and most of the book takes place in what would have been 2009, the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment.
Endnote 78, which infers that the Year of Glad has yet to be ratified, implies the book itself is being written in YDAU?
Back with Joelle, she passes a cardboard cutout of a legless man in a wheelchair, with a face frozen in ecstatic rapture, and in his cardboard hand a labeless black cartridge case, which Joelle takes out, looks at and puts back in the display…
Until we are briefly interrupted yet again for…
“Helen” Steeply’s CV, including brief romantic interludes. We find out Moment magazine is based in Arizona, where Steeply has been talking with Marathe. Pemulis also mentions Moment as the source of the story about the soldier who dropped DMZ and went off the rails.
The party at Molly’s place used to be Joelle’s apartment, when she was with Orin, and is the possible location where she filmed JOI’s last work (the “allegedly fatally entertaining and scopophiliac thing Jim alleges he made out of her unveiled face here at the start of Y.T.S.D.B” – p. 230 + also more details in endnote 80). I love how DFW skewers academic parties (I am sure based on his own experience) as snippets of the party are peppered through the description of JvD freebasing Lady Delphina’s coke in the bathroom. We get a brief look into JvD’s past, her own Personal Daddy, the lowPH chemist, a sense of her startling beauty, and her relationship with JOI.
A conversation between Hal and Orin reveals much about JOI’s death
In preparation for his interview with Helen Steeply, which now appears to be more about James Incandenza’s legacy than Orin’s punting skills, Orin calls Hal to find out more details about his father’s death. The fact that Orin knows so little speaks volumes about the family dynamic. Orin also reveals that he is afraid he is being followed by many men in wheelchairs (p. 244), including one wearing a domino mask. We also learn that Helen is apparently ‘weirdly sexy’ which goes against the descriptions we have had of Steeply’s disguise, from both Marathe and our unreliable narrator, who calls her “enormous, electrolysis-rashed” on p. 142.
This section also contains the brilliant piece about Hal dealing with the grief therapist. Also the end of the conversation is very odd. Hal starts talking about human nails being vestiges of talons, etc and Orin starts asking “What’s the matter? Is this meant to make me feel bad? I can call you back when you are more yourself” (p. 257), which are reactions very out of place to what Hal is discussing.