Posts

Rue du Départ: Everybody Now--

Image
Well, here it is. The last section of the book. What a long strange yeah okay. It actually starts with Dally talking into the ether but convinced that her dad is hearing her, which he is. So that's nice. She and Kit are married and move to Torino in 1915. That's nice. What's, uh, less nice is that she meets Clive Crouchmas again: She knew that Clive's demands would be as minimal as a girl could ask. Conjugal bliss? Flings with other men? no problem for Clive. There was  that awkward business of his having once tried to shop her into white slavery, but both understood that it was perhaps his one moment of genuine blind passion, everybody deserves at least one of those, doesn't he, and at the end of the day Clive was grateful for it and Dally was semi-sweetly amused.  (1067) I can't fucking EVEN with this. I'd go so far as to say that I literally  can't even. I mean, like, what the hell is this? Is she getting paid for this? Going with her old sugar daddy

Against the Day, Chapter Twenty: The Mystery of the Syncopated Strangler!

We're with Lew in Los Angeles. He's a big-shot detective now. His time in England is apparently little more than a dream to him. He has three female assistants, Thetis, Shalimar, and Mezzanine (lol@those name), who are all action heroines: "crackerjack drivers, licensed gun owners, and surefooted as burros at the Grand Canyon" (1040). Is this some sort of Charlie's Angels  kind of thing? Maybe. He is approached by a Chester LeStreet--a black man, meaning the second definitely-black, named character in the novel; not super-impressive, I've gotta say--who has work for him: a few years ago there was this Syncopated Stranger case in a nightclub. There's a woman named Jardine Maraca, who was one of the victims' roommate. She had left town, but recently contacted the club to say that the supposed victim, Encarnación, is still alive and that someone's after her. So Lew is desired to look into the case. He gives Lew an address of a motel where she was supp

Against the Day, Chapter Nineteen: The Chums of Chance on Counter-Earth!

Book's really winding down at this point. This isn't the last we'll see of the Chums, but it's definitely pivotal. They have the idea that they should go UP. Up being equated with north, as you will remember from way the fuck back at the beginning of the novel. And there's "an updraft over the deserts of Northern Africa unprecedented in size and intensity" (1018). So...they should go there to go up, I guess? Why not? The Inconvenience  is growing, turning into more of a social thing; Miles has "hired a top-notch cooking staff, including a former sous-chef at the well-known Tour d'Argent in Paris." Also, they have Pugnax's--girlfriend?--introduced in this oddly florid passage: Sometimes he thought he'd been waiting for her all his life, that she had always been down there, moving somewhere just visible, among the landscapes rolling beneath the ship, deep among the details of tiny fenced or hedged fields, thatched or red-titled rooftops

Against the Day, Chapter Eighteen: One Death Special, Coming Up!

So we open with Scarsdale Vibe giving a speech to the Las Animas-Huerfano Delgation of the Industrial Defense Alliance (L.A.H.D.I.D.A.). Ha-ha. Not subtle, it is. Let me quote it at length: So of course we use them. We harness and sodomize them, photograph their degradation, send them up onto the high iron and down into mines and sewers and killing floors, we set them beneath inhuman loads, we harvest from them their muscle and eyesight and health, leaving them in our kindness a few miserable years of broken gleanings. Of course we do. Why not? They are good for little else. How likely are they to grow to their full manhood, become educated, engender families, further the culture or the race? We take what we can while we may. We will buy it all up, all this country. Money speaks, the land listens, where the Anarchist skulked, where the horse-thief plied his trade, we fishers of Americans will cast our nets of perfect ten-acre mesh, leveled and varmint-proofed, ready to build on. Where

Against the Day, Chapter Seventeen: Goodbye Mexico!

So we're back in Mexico with Frank. And on reflection, I really think all this Mexican Revolution stuff is the hardest part of the book to grasp, at least for someone without a detailed understanding of the history. There are just SO many significant names, places, and events; it's not easy to figure out, and you wonder if there's necessarily any point  to doing so. What would you get out of it? Well, suffice it to say, Frank is involved. He finds himself in Jiménez, in the state of Chihuahua. Apparently, this place is famous for meteorites, which makes him think of Iceland spar. He finds "the strangest-looking damn rock he'd seen in a while," and "every time he touched the thing, even lightly, he began to hear a sort of voice. 'What are you doing here?' it seemed it was saying. There's no more about that. It just seemed like something I should mention. We can put it on the pile of sentient inanimate objects. Fighting against the government, h

Against the Day, Chapter Sixteen: The Ousts at Home!

So in contrast, here we have a very short chapter. We're back in the US with Stray and Ewball: they're together now, but "by the time they agreed to part, [they] had forgotten why they ran off together in the first place" (977). Hey, it happens. But in the meantime, Ewball has the idea that she should meet his family, which she isn't wildly enthusiastic about. But she does. His mother is named Moline Velma Oust, but the real drama come with his (unnamed) dad, who is a stamp collector who's pissed off at his son because of the fact that he's been writing home using rare error printings of stamps with upside down images: "inversion symbolized undoing. Here are three machines, false symbols of the capitalist faith, literally overthrown" (979). Oust père fails to appreciate the symbolism and they get into a physical fight which is broken up when the housekeeper fires off a pistol. The housekeeper is Mayva Traverse, who'd run into the Ousts on a t

Against the Day, Chapter Fifteen: Worst Song Played on Ugliest Guitar!

Should I have given such a significant chapter a jokey reference for a title? Perhaps not. But what's done is done, and we just have to learn to live with it. It's a very long chapter with a lot in it; I'm kind of dreading how long it's going to take me to write this entry. But write it I must! The end is in sight! Reef, Yashmeen, and Cyprian. That's who we're talking about. As we open the chapter, they've found "the Anarchist spa of Yz-les-Bains" in France somewhere. I kind of assumed that was a real place--I mean, not the "anarchist" spa part, but that there would be a real town called Yz-les-Bains--but no; it's purely an invention. Difficult to tell with Pynchon sometimes. Or all the time. It's one of those little mini-communities within larger, potentially hostile states that he loves so much. Something's happening here, but what it is ain't exactly clear: "...these solemn young folks carried with them an austerit