OK, Hal again, presumably back at ETA, and his brother Orin calls to accuse him of self-abuse. Which of course is a pretty accurate accusation, if not in the way he means it. And then:
Hal estimated over 60% of what he told Orin on the phone since Orin had abruptly started calling again this spring was a lie. He had no idea why he liked lying to Orin on the phone so much.If he’s lying 60% of the time to his brother, how much of the rest of what he says is a lie? And if we make the lazy but possibly justifiable assumption that Hal is some sort of stand-in for the author, how much is he lying? Of course, he’s writing fiction, so it’s all a lie; but fiction writers can still wrongfoot their readers, break the rules, lay false trails. And Wallace has already laid so many trails, at least some of them are going to be false, surely?
Orin’s “Phoenician felled by the heat” sounds like a quotation from something, but I’m not sure what. There’s a Phoenician in The Waste Land, but he drowns. Any ideas, anyone? The image does make me think of this:
And his remark about missing New Orleans reminds me that the first time I heard the song ‘Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans’ I seriously thought it was about a beauty queen. But who is his “special somebody”? And does his question about separatism mean that we’re any closer to finding out how all these pieces, these trails, fit together?
Ennet House. I’m guessing at least some of the characters we’ve encountered so far are going to end up here, but not sure which ones. Hal, certainly; is this where he meets the Cuban orderly? Erdedy? Maybe Kate Gompert? Apart from that, this seems to be little more than a set-up for a good joke; “...known in Boston AA simply as the Guy Who Didn’t Even Use His First Name”. Well, I laughed.
I also laughed at the story about the bricklayer. More specifically, I laughed when I first heard a recording of Gerard Hoffnung telling it; and I’m sure Laurel and Hardy did a similar routine and I’ll bet you they weren’t the first. Which doesn’t mean that DFW shouldn’t tell it again, but I’m not entirely sure why he does.
OK, let’s break it there. McGarrett & Furillo next. And it won’t be the best part of a month, I promise.