Week Nine – Pages 580-651 (endnotes 241- 265)
In which Lenz’s nightly assaults catch up to him, Mario is missing Madame Psychosis, Orin has been entrapped by the “Swiss hand model,” the WYYY engineer gets scooped up by the AFR, objects are moving around E.T.A, Steeply’s father obsessed over M*A*S*H and Day articulates the dark, billowing shape. Compared to other weeks that have been filled with back stories, mathematics, and tennis lessons, this week we get some serious action.
November 11 – Lenz picks the wrong Polynesian ‘Nuck party
As Lenz’s nightly escapades have been hampered by his walks with Bruce Green, it’s no surprise that Lenz eventually breaks away to continue his self-treatment for his “raging Powerlessness.” Green unintentionally becomes a witness to the death of the large dog (Bebe, or Pepe), and may have accidentally appeared to the AFR across the street as a potential ONAN-ite agent, with his finger in his ear seeming like “he’s maybe receiving communiques from some kind of earpiece” (p. 589)
The tension is beautifully built here, long before the Nucks show up outside of Ennet House, brandishing Lenz’ moustache as well as their serious weaponry. The descriptions of Gately’s efforts to get everyone in under curfew, the frustration of trying to then get everyone back out to move their cars, filled me with anxiety even before the Nucks arrived. The situation unfolds over twelve breathlessly paced pages. Very cinematic.
The Lenz story is a really giant part of the middle of this book – running almost 44 pages (pp. 538-548 / 553-562 / 575-589 / 608-619). And compared to other sections that discuss conceptual/emotional/spiritual ideas, I would say the Lenz section’s role is mostly to move one significant plot point ahead (Gately getting shot).
Orin is in trouble
We are left at the precipice of Orin getting into some serious trouble as it is slowly revealed that not only is the wheelchair’d ‘fan’ someone a little more nefarious (duh) but that the swiss hand model is complicit, hiding under the covers with an oxygen mask and firearm. The AFR agent’s ‘survey’ about what Orin misses the most (television, mostly re-runs, how “the familiarity was inflicted”), and what he misses the least, which we don’t get to hear. At least we know Orin is not dead, because of the reference to “what struck Orin later as odd.” (p. 600).
The WYYY engineer gets nabbed
In another highly cinematic scene, an AFR assassin moguls down the hill by the lake, scooping up the engineer in a sort of snowplow attachment to the wheelchair, to be deposited in the van waiting below. Do Tine and Steeply watch this unfold through their 8th story window?
Nov 11 – There are a lot of strange things happening at E.T.A.
Hal, Pemulis et al have come out of the meeting with Tavis apparently unscathed. We learn that Hal is going clean (p. 635) and the excessive saliva may be the first sign of pot-withdrawl. Ortho’s near-win against Hal has him thinking he may be able to will objects to move, which may explain his bed moving, as the ball on the court curved “like a drenched spitter” in play. Also, objects are appearing in odd places, even suspended from walls with no apparent means of attachment .
Steeply’s father’s obsession with M*A*S*H
This story reminded me of how many episodes of M*A*S*H I probably watched as a kid. I couldn’t get enough, and lord knows it was literally on four times a day. Fortunately, I did not dive into madness like Mr. Steeply.
One more bizarre/funny/weird endnote issue – the ‘author’ is compelled to insert [sic] endnotes re: Betamax (e. 263) AND recycling (e. 264) but lets Steeply’s mis-naming the actor who played Burns (Larry Linville) as Maury Linville go un-noted.
Day articulates Kate Gompert’s ‘feeling’
The “large, dark, billowing shape” that Day accidentally ‘frees’ during a session of violin playing seems to really resonate with Kate, and is much like what she was trying to explain to the doctor when she was in the psych ward.