Three M’s

Nice work getting into the 800s, team. The end is starting to feel close, for better or worse. Do you feel nervous that the book might have a hard time resolving in the remaining 150 pages? Or that you’re good and ready for this whole kertwang to be over and done with?

For me at this time, I’m still very much enjoying the ride, but finding the reading/writing schedule to be a bit intense to juggle with all the other life things happening right now. For example, my wife and I are looking to relocate cities and are in the midst of selling our house this week (and were looking at houses last weekend in the other city), my thesis defense got a tentative date put on it for this summer (so now I’m really under the gun to finish), I had to do report cards for my teaching job late into the evening the other night (report card week, any teacher will tell you, being full-on and no fun at all), I had a Netrunner tournament last night (which I won, you’ll be relieved to know), there’s a Great Concavity episode to finish editing and get out ASAP to the adoring masses, plus a bunch of other commitments too banal to mention.

And so, to keep it light this week (as opposed to my heavier posts about morality and psycho-spirituality in the last month), here’s a list of things (all categorized as starting with M) that made me laugh and kept me having fun during this week’s reading:

Mario. Mario. Mario.

  • His conversations in this section are just so funny. Talking to LaMont Chu, and getting this exchange: Chu—“Jesus, Mario, it’s like trying to talk to a rock with you sometimes.” Mario—“This is going very well!” (759)
  • Mario’s observations in the Moms’s office that “some of the prints in the deep shag he can see are shoes, and some are different, almost like knuckles” and of “a couple odd long crinkly paper strips of bright red hung over the side of the wastebasket,” which reminds us of the bewildering John NR Wayne and Avril football/cheerleader fantasy scenario the Peemster happened upon not long ago. (764, 766)
  • Mario to Hal: “I like the fans’ sound at night. Do you? It’s like somebody big far away goes like: it’sOKit’sOKit’sOKit’sOK, over and over. From very far away.” (772)
  • Mario to Hal: “Hal, pretty much all I do is love you and be glad I have an excellent brother in every way, Hal.” (772)


  • “I know what it is you are meaning” (774)
  • “Out of a blue place, in one flashing instant.” (775)
  • “It is a long story to the side of this story, but my part of the Swiss nation is in my time of no legs invaded and despoiled by stronger and evil hated and neighboring nations, who claim as in the Anschluss of Hitler that they are friends and are not invading the Swiss but conferring on us gifts of alliance.” (776-7)


  • That the Incandenza family idiom for leftovers is “Many Wonders.” (762)
  • “Kertwang” – I’ve been using this word all week as many times per day as I can reasonably fit it contextually into conversation, both as a verb and a noun.
  • The alliteration of “[Trevor and] Pemulis’s penises.” (784)
  • Molly Notkin’s assessment of Wild Turkey being “some very gnarly-tasting liquor indeed” (790). (Personal side note: When I was on my way home from the DFW conference in Illinois last year, I came across this display in the Chicago O’Hare airport, moments before I randomly bumped into Matt Bucher whilst I was buying popcorn, and then having a several hour conversation about literature with him, without which The Great Concavity probably would not exist in its current form.

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 12.57.21 AM

  • The sheer volume of kitchen appliance suicides and demappings, with recurring mentions of J.O.I. and the microwave, and now Joelle’s mother having “committed suicide by putting her extremities down the garbage disposal—first one arm and then, kind of miraculously if you think about it, the other arm” (795). Jeez.
  • Basically just the entire Inner Infant scene, with poor old Kevin Bain crawling on all fours by scene’s end, “his face unspeakable” (808). And again that revelation that Lateral Alice Moore was in the chopper that went down and killed Bain’s parents on the Jamaica Way commuter road.
  • Tiny Ewell’s recollection to Gately of “the Money-Stealer’s Club” (810). I don’t care what anyone says; this is the best name for any club ever in history.
  • The wraith. Just in general. So yeah, there’s a ghosty thing in the book now. And he appears to be very tall, and to incept Gately’s mind with specifically regional and filmic terms like LATRODECTUS MACTANS, CHIAROSCURO, BRICOLAGE, SCOPOPHILIA, SINISTRAL, POOR YORICK, etc., making it pretty clear who this revenant is. Could this be the…thing(?)…responsible for the mysterious goings on of the tripod-in-the-thicket, Ortho Stice’s bed moving in the night, and brooms X’ing in the cafeteria of the Enfield Tennis Academy?
  • Pemulis’s comforting of Todd Possalthwaite in endnote 324 about the capital-T truth of “math. As in Matics, Math E. First-order predicate logic. Never fail you,” &c. (1071)

And probably a whole bunch of other things I laughed out loud at in public this week—having been kicked from our home during a great many real estate showings—but missed in my skimming over of the section.

I look forward to hearing about your favorite moments from this week’s section in the comments below.

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16 thoughts on “Three M’s”

  1. So what’s the poop this week? Introducing Fully Functional Phil, the prancing ass. The whole meeting with (M is for) Ms. Maureen Hooley is hilarious because it really doesn’t seem all that far fetched, does it?

  2. Love this post. One of the most heartwarming things, for me anyway, in all of IJ is Mario’s description of the fans’ sounding like someone saying “It’sokit’sokit’sok”. I listened to that late one night and felt instantly (momentarily) relieved of all worry. Sometimes all you need in the middle of the long dark night is a reminder that it’s ok. I don’t even care if this seems to goo-prone. Mario is ace.

    1. He sure sure is. Have you read any Jonathan Safran Foer, Lisa? Specifically “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close?” I think you’d really dig it, based on your comment on the fans. That fan part reminds me a lot of Foer, or vice versa, as Wallace came way before. :)

  3. Wow. I love this whole post and responses. I finished IJ in March, and am enjoying stress-free commentaries now, having proven myself a second time. Your highlighting the luscious lines and words makes my face crinkle with grinning. I tried to explain the whole Infinite Winter adventure to a book club groupie, but find that my delight depends (year of Depends?) on these online interactions. Thank you for being most excellent brothers.

    1. I love that term too and it would have made a great topic for a DFW essay. Nutrition free food, ugh. Despite his taste for junk food he did seem somewhat aware of nutrition. At least in the movie End of the Tour we see him downing some vitamins. B complex iirc.

  4. Do I have this right? Joelle’s mom puts herself down disposal. Lenz puts a bird down a disposal. The MP puts a kitten down a disposal. Somewhat strangely Lenz wears a fake white mustache and the MP has a prominent blond mustache. Weirdness.

  5. Awesome post, Dave.

    I totally remember this photo from Twitter, post DFW 2015. Fun to read
    that adjacent to the tower, Great Concavity was formed! Wow.

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