Thursday, May 29, 2014

the last book I ever read (Thomas Pynchon's Vineland, excerpt nine)

from Vineland by Thomas Pynchon:

She recognized Hector right away, even after all the years, but the sight didn’t raise her spirits. He looked like shit—run-down, congested in every system of circulation, appearing to her as at the edge of a circle of light, out of the frozen dark of years in service, of making deals and breaking them, betrayed himself, tortured, torturing back . . . long-term ravages . . . He ought to’ve broken by now—what kept him going? Somebody he loved, some drug habit, simple stubborn denial? She breathed his tobacco aura, withstood his crooked jovial born-to-lose laugh. So this was who he’d become—who, at least through her lack of surprise or any be reflex sorrow, she, down at her own modest level, must have become as well.

Just to get it done, she asked, “Is this official? Do you have any backup from DEA or Justice on any of this, or are you working some private angle?”

Hector began to pop and roll his eyes, as if working up to a full-scale freakout. Back at the Tubaldetox he’d had women talking to him like this all the time, another reason to escape, obliged never to scream back at them, as this earned him demerits that would even further postpone his release date. How he would have preferred violent body contact, shock, the recoil of a weapon, some scream of agro, some chance just to drum his heels on something, but his options these days didn’t even include teethgrinding. Once suave and master of himself, the fed was now having some trouble “trying,” as Marty Robbins once put it in a different context, “to stay in the saddle.”

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