This is the latest entry in Words, Words, Words the ongoing liveblog of David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest.”
April 5, 2012, pgs 911-934/1077-1078. We’re back with old Don Gately, lying in his hospital bed. It doesn’t seem like Gately’s been put on pain-killers, but he does keep returning to memories of Gene Fackleman, who was first brought to mind when the MD suggested the use of Dilaudid. Also, it seems like just about every MD in Wallace’s near-future imaginings is South East Asian or Near/Middle Eastern. We’re pretty well embedded into Gately’s memories/fever dreams at this point, and as the pages slip by we are, for something like the first time in 911 pages, deeply engaged in a self-contained linear narrative.
We take a quick break to find out that Pemulis’ stash has been raided, though he still goes looking in his hiding place for something. This section also marks the unhappy return of Bobby C, or just C, from the very early yrstruly chapter where he meets his painful but not exactly undeserved fate.
When Gately comes to he once again feels like “he was trapped inside his huge chattering head,” which brings him back to all sorts of unpleasant feelings about being a helpless child. He refers to himself as a figurant, and thinks of “the wraith’s nonexistent kid.” Speaking of figurants, Gately slips back into a memory/dream about his pseudo-romance with Pamela Hoffman-Jeep, “his first girl ever with a hyphen” and “the single passivest person Gately ever met.” The pages are rife with Gately as caretaker and protector, if we weren’t already aware of that by now. Hoffman-Jeep falls for Gately because he does nothing. While she is telling Gately the story of Fackleman’s fuck-up and impending doom, Gately notes that “Like most incredibly passive people, the girl had a terrible time ever separating details from what was really important to a story.” Kinda hard not to sympathize as we slouch towards the final pages and the only thing that obviously ties together the threads of the previous 930 pages is that they’re not connected to what’s going on in the story now.
BUT THEN…Gately wakes up to see the wraith and a wraith-Lyle licking the sweat off his forehead. HIs attempt to swing at them sends him back into pain-delirium where, in addition to a Buddhist-heavy mirror-wiping dream and one consisting of only “the color blue, too vivid, like the blue of a pool,” he sees himself with a “very sad kid” digging up some dead guy’s head. Joelle van Dyne is there, and Gately feels like he knows the guy they’re digging up. When they get there it looks like the sad kid yells out “Too late.”
And if you’re curious why this liveblog is taking so long, one reason is that this happens every time I try to read: