Once again, a post over at A Supposedly Fun Blog made me want to comment, but my post, submitted in two or three different non-spammy ways, was marked as spam. So here’s my reply, whose trackback to that post will hopefully cause it to be seen and possibly responded to over there (though I’ll have no way to reply back short of posting another thing here, which I really don’t want to do over and over).
The post’s author talks about skipping over what is admittedly a rough patch to get through as we wander about the streets with C and Poor Tony, et al, as they try to get a fix. My reply:
The sections in this voice (as with the Wardine section earlier in the book) have always puzzled me a little bit. There are certain characters from these sections (especially Poor Tony and Roy Tony) whom you’ll see again in sometimes sad and sometimes funny (and sometimes both simultaneously) ways. How important this sketch is in its particulars I don’t recall, other than that it gives some background on Poor Tony. (That said, I don’t think either of the Tonies is a particularly major character, but my memory of the last half of the book is pretty vague.) I think what Wallace may be doing with this section is in a way trying to be democratic or exhaustive about the addiction thing. He’s trying to present addiction and its effects in many settings. I think he’s also pretty careful about not sitting in an ivory tower about it all. Not only criminals and street folk are drug addicts, he pretty clearly points out. I think that’s a big part of why he wrote the big Erdedy section and put it near the front of the book. Yet a depiction of addiction and the horrors it can lead to would be incomplete without this sort of view from the street. Whether or not it was necessary to write it in a voice from the street is debatable. It’s a difficult section to get through, for sure. I probably had a similar reaction upon my first read of IJ. This time around, it didn’t bother me so much, but I won’t pretend I thought it was the best writing in the book.