In the Casino resaurant, not the slightest impedance at all to getting in, no drop in temperature perceptible to his skin, Slothrop sits down at a table where somebody has left last Tuesday’s London Times. Hmmm. Hasn’t seen one of them in a while….Leafing through, dum, dum de-doo, yeah, the War’s still on, Allies closing in east and west on Berlin, powdered eggs still going one and three a dozen, “Fallen Officers,” MacGregory, Mucker-Maffick, Whitestreet, Personal Tributes…Meet Me in St Louis showing at the Empire Cinema (recalls doing the penis-in- the-popcorn-box routine there with one Madelyn, who was less than– ) —
Tantivy. Oh shit no, no wait–
“True charm…humblemindedness…strength of character…fundamental Christian cleanness and goodness…We all loved Oliver…his courage, kindness of heart and unfailing good humour were an inspiration to all of us…died bravely in battle leading a gallant attempt to rescue members of his unit, who were pinned down by German artillery…” And signed by his most devoted comrade in arms, Theodore Bloat. Major Theodore Bloat now–
Staring out the window, staring at nothing, gripping a table knife so hard maybe some bones of his hand will break. It happens sometimes to lepers. Failure of feedback to the brain–no way to know how fiercely they may be making a fist. You know these lepers. Well–
Ten minutes later, back up in his room, he’s lying face-down on the bed, feeling empty. Can’t cry. Can’t do anything.
They did it it. Took his friend out to some deathtrap, probably let him fake an “honourable” death…and then just closed up his file…
It will occur to him later that maybe the whole story was a lie. They could’ve planted it easy enough in that London Times, couldn’t they? Left the paper for Slothrop to find? But by the time he figures that one out, there’ll be no turning around.
– Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow p. 293
So I’m reading Gravity’s Rainbow, small, resonant details of which, I freely acknowledge, find their way into the animated musical screenplay. But when I mention Anthony Lane’s writing about Cannes one day and read this bit of Pynchon (set in Nice. !) the next, please understand –please, just don’t sneer– if Lewis’s post the next day about Cannes and the grisly fate of first-time filmmakers weirds me out just a little.
Not that I’ve been expecting a full-blown review for Souvenir in the New Yorker…but, maybe a smart little bit in Talk of the Town…
Post-script: A reader pointed out that using the mass media to send messages to the troubled protagonist is a plot point in The Bourne Identity as well. So what are you saying? That stealing ideas from Pynchon, the best I can hope for is to be Robert Ludlum? Or that I’m (un)consciously campaigning to have Matt Damon play me in the movie?