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Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks
http://infinitesummer.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=421
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Author:  repat [ Mon Aug 24, 2009 7:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks

OneBigParty wrote:
Although I did get into another small internal beef with DFW over the picture of a fat woman's ass smeared with shit mooning people through a bus bathroom's window. But that's another thread....maybe "What's Eating Bruce Green?"


Yup, I had that same small internal beef.

Author:  doubtful geste [ Tue Aug 25, 2009 4:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks

I think it should be "What's Eating Randy Lenz." And re: Lenz's mom on the bus -- I've never been able to decide if I'm supposed to take this as her true fate, since Lenz flat out lies about so much while monologuing to Bruce Green, from his martial arts abilities to Joelle as a cyclops and on and on... That said, every time I've read that scene, I find myself, like so many other scenes in the book, most acutely feeling the sort of mortified vaguely empathetic horror at her situation. Now, I will admit to being capable of a little bit of this feeling pretty easily for most of the victims of the hyperbolic side-stories we are given, but while that may just be me in some of these cases, I continue to think that it is one of the odd things DFW keeps trying to pull off: tell a hyperbolic story that in other hands might be just an over the top joke but that he chooses to tell in a way that points our attention to the subjective horror of the victim of the story. Lenz' mom as an example is an odd one, given who is telling the story, yet that twist of attention is still there for me.

I just thought of an odd possibly parallell example done well by another writer -- if anyone has read "Generation X," there is a wonderful dream one of the characters tells where he is behind an obese man in a supermarket line and thinking, in passing, witty, kinda mean things about him. Then WWIII starts, with the bombs in the air, and the fat man insists on calmly paying for his purchases, stating that he had always told himself that, when the end came, he would act with dignity -- one of those beautiful little moments of reversal of the reader's perspective/sympathies, as well as of the whole context of the story, that can be such finds.

Author:  good old neon [ Tue Aug 25, 2009 11:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks

I think there’s some danger to be had in over-intellectualizing and/or deconstructing what is, essentially, a fight scene – a brilliantly staged, written and paced fight scene, but a fight scene none the less. When discussing Wallace’s writing, I sometimes think there is a tendency to try to unpack everything, to find a deeper meaning within even the most mundane of passages – not mundane in the sense that the writing is poor or pedestrian, but more in the sense that, sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar – if that makes sense.

In defense of Gately, I’m not sure how one goes about neutralizing the threat posed by three large, very angry men without resorting to some pretty extreme violence. These guys were not just your garden variety bar fight drunks, they were armed with both knives and firearms – neither of which afford one the luxury of restraint. Plus, after months and months of exercising a Herculean degree of self-control, you sort of have to sympathize with Gately’s desire to just “let go” and fuck some shit up.

Author:  OneBigParty [ Tue Aug 25, 2009 12:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks

doubtful geste wrote:
I think it should be "What's Eating Randy Lenz."


Oops thank you doubtful geste that's what I meant to say.

Author:  JRLSberro [ Wed Aug 26, 2009 4:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks

Since I'm currently staying pretty much right on schedule it was fantastic last night to read the description of "Blood Sister: One Tough Nun" on pg 704 and the idea of the "...cathartic bloodbath, i.e. the hero trying with every will-fiber to eschew the generic world of the stick and fist and but driven by unjust circumstance back to the violence again, to the cathartic final bloodbath the audience is brought to applaud instead of mourn." And how Hal seems to view this as blatantly formulaic!

Some of you on this forum who are ahead or on re-reads probably knew this was coming but it made me sit right up and think about the discussion both here and on the main page in the comments to Matthew's post about Gately and the fight. It is amazing to me how DFW continues to wind the threads tighter and tighter.

Joan

Author:  repat [ Wed Aug 26, 2009 8:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks

doubtful geste wrote:
I think it should be "What's Eating Randy Lenz." And re: Lenz's mom on the bus -- I've never been able to decide if I'm supposed to take this as her true fate, since Lenz flat out lies about so much while monologuing to Bruce Green, from his martial arts abilities to Joelle as a cyclops and on and on... That said, every time I've read that scene, I find myself, like so many other scenes in the book, most acutely feeling the sort of mortified vaguely empathetic horror at her situation. Now, I will admit to being capable of a little bit of this feeling pretty easily for most of the victims of the hyperbolic side-stories we are given, but while that may just be me in some of these cases, I continue to think that it is one of the odd things DFW keeps trying to pull off: tell a hyperbolic story that in other hands might be just an over the top joke but that he chooses to tell in a way that points our attention to the subjective horror of the victim of the story. Lenz' mom as an example is an odd one, given who is telling the story, yet that twist of attention is still there for me.


This is very helpful. I think I have the same tendency to pay attention to the "subjective horror of the victim" but it's not always clear to me that this is where the narrative is leading me. Maybe it is, and maybe this is part of the linguistic work the reader is asked to do. The Matty Pemulis story (and this may be in another thread) however, brings us right into the world of the victim. I suppose the book would be impossible to read if it were all this intense, but it's an interesting contrast, in terms of deployment of scene/narrative.

Author:  stephaniejane [ Thu Aug 27, 2009 9:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks

JRLSberro wrote:
Since I'm currently staying pretty much right on schedule it was fantastic last night to read the description of "Blood Sister: One Tough Nun" on pg 704 and the idea of the "...cathartic bloodbath, i.e. the hero trying with every will-fiber to eschew the generic world of the stick and fist and but driven by unjust circumstance back to the violence again, to the cathartic final bloodbath the audience is brought to applaud instead of mourn." And how Hal seems to view this as blatantly formulaic!

Some of you on this forum who are ahead or on re-reads probably knew this was coming but it made me sit right up and think about the discussion both here and on the main page in the comments to Matthew's post about Gately and the fight. It is amazing to me how DFW continues to wind the threads tighter and tighter.


How did I miss this connection?? I'm so glad you brought it up. I haven't been posting much since I finished the book, but I'm still reading the boards, and every so often something like this presents the text in a new light. Thanks!

And OneBigParty - I totally wasn't trying to say that you were like the people who only cared about the rabbits in Roger and Me. I wouldn't make that kind of judgment, especially without knowing you. I was just saying that like, the dicsussion was bringing that tension to mind.

Author:  mynameisnotlinda [ Fri Aug 28, 2009 3:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks

not sure if anyone's in the Dallas area, but I just heard about some cat-killings taking place there from a friend who lives there. The details do not involve Steel Saks, but they're pretty nasty, so beware:
http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairp ... orthwe.php

Author:  redsock [ Sat Nov 14, 2009 7:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks

This is a fantastic thread!

But I believe the Michael Moore movie w/ the rabbit is Pets or Meat, not Roger & Me.

Author:  stephaniejane [ Tue Mar 09, 2010 7:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks

redsock wrote:
This is a fantastic thread!

But I believe the Michael Moore movie w/ the rabbit is Pets or Meat, not Roger & Me.


It is definitely Roger & Me. (Pets or Meat was a follow up short film.)

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