This is the fifth of a five-part roundtable discussion with the Infinite Summer Guides.
Infinite Summer: Any predictions as to what will happen in the second half of the novel?
Matthew Baldwin: I’ll tell you what I’m not expecting: anything resembling a standard climax or dénouement. In nearly all of Wallace’s non- and short-fiction I’ve read, the pieces just sort of end, often abruptly, with no surprise twist or delivered moral, frequently without even a deft turn of phrase. I always feel like there was an editor somewhere in the process who said, “Hey , David? This is a little too long, so we’re going to just lop off the last third. Does that work?”
Eden M, Kennedy: I am waiting for some class conflict to bubble up. So far the book seems to gloss over the fact that some Ennet House people work, almost invisibly, at ETA (kitchen; the towel girl), but that leaves me thinking that something’s slowly brewing there, theme-wise. Because what about Pat M., a rich woman who seems to be sort of class-blind — yet finding common ground with all kinds of fucked up people who simply share the will to conquer an addiction? She’s going to end up the Mother Theresa of this novel, you watch.
Avery Edison: It seems like we’re drawing to the end of Marathe and Steeply’s conversation on the mountainside, and I’d like to see some sort of confrontation between the two before they leave. We’ve been constantly reminded of the gun lurking just under Marathe’s blanket, always in his hand, and so I think it’d be nifty to see some action by Steeply to justify Marathe’s caution. At the moment it seems too much like Marathe has the upper hand.
Kevin Guilfoile: I just realized that I’m not spending much time trying to figure out what’s going to happen next. This book really is unfolding sort of like a dream for me, where I don’t have much vision of it beyond the present. I think Wallace set up some early seeds of anticipation—we know Hal and Gately are going to get together, for instance—but beyond that I’m not really trying to figure it out much.
Avery Edison: I’m similar to Kevin in that I’ve not given much thought to the future. So many odd events have happened already, I feel like I have next to no shot at making any kind of accurate prediction.
KG: I’m sort of letting it happen, and I’m enjoying it. I wish I could live my life that way more.
EMK: This was fun; can we do it again next week?