Thursday, December 28, 2006

Against the Blog: 2-17

For the last few days, I've had no internet access but much Pynchon access, so I'm way behind here. So if these next few seem somewhat cursory, that may be the reason. Or, it may just be that I'm extremely lazy. Difficult to say.

Dally Rideout is off to New York. Soon after getting there, she makes friends with a waitress/aspiring actress named Katie, who helps her out by getting her a job as the "victim" in public enactments of white slavery tableaux--being captured by evil Chinese fiends. She meets R. Wilshire Vibe, who says she should be in his plays. She goes to his offices, where she gets a job from a guy named Con McVeety, holding up cards to introduce various acts. Con, it turns out, has a reputation for booking the absolute worst acts in the city. So she does that for a while.

Eventually, she is invited to one of R's parties, to which she invites Katie also. In order to make her more presentable, Katie brings her to a department store, where her mind is boggled by big-city things like escalators and mirrors. I have to call bullshit on that last one; it is impossible for me to imagine that, throughout her lengthy and far-ranging peregrinations with her father, she never encountered mirrors before.

At the store, she glimpses a woman who she is sure is her mother. But it's just a glimpse.

At the party, a man gets her drunk and tries to take her captive, but she is rescued by one of the party's acts, the great Luca Zombini--whose assistant and wife, Erlys, is, you will recall, her mother. With no apparent fuss, she is integrated into the Zombini family. Luca and Erlys have a bunch of kids, who are being brought up in the most magical environment possible.

We learn from Luca--a detail which will no doubt prove important later--that he has a technique where--using that good ol' Iceland spar--he can actually duplicate a subject; make one person into two. But reintegrating the two? He thought that would be easy, but, as it turns out, not so much. He has done this to "maybe two or three" people. Who? We don't know. I will note, however, that Scarsdale Vibe and Foley Walker have previously been talked about as if they are the same person.

At the end of the chapter, Erlys reveals that Merle isn't Dally's biological father; that honor goes to the guy he stole her from, the long-dead Bert Snidell.



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