Friday, October 25, 2019

Patience by Toby Litt

28 thoughts on “Patience – Toby Litt”

  1. 1979
    Pages 7 – 23
    “I am never bored.”
    A quite staggering opening to this book.
    Beyond what I shall call WHITER’s block. Someone, I infer, looking at the pure white page, later filling it with thoughts by dint of print or handwriting. The language flows like Gerard Manley Hopkins without the neologisms or difficult words, blended with Beckett and with naivety of a boy called Elliott who seems to be writing it. And gradually we gather the gestalt of Elliott, not that we ever will, I guess. A synaesthesia of observation via the whiteness of whitewash and whoever painted it over the years and eventually ‘painted’ upon it we see the children like him looked after by Religious Sisters, mixing the wildness of madness with the counterpoint of restraint. Sense and sensitivity and sometimes sick sensibility. Disarmingly inchoate but often structured into flowing simple sentences without punctuation, but also so easy and pleasurable to read. I am captivated by inferred boredom, a boredom filled with pareidolia, apophenia and childhood incident. Well, at least MY pareidolia and apophenia. And a sense of Elliott’s physical constraints or props…
    “My visual field changed you see according to which shoulder my heavy head was resting upon although this was something I did not myself get to choose.”

  2. —> Page 27
    Deeper and deeper into Elliott’s unique transcription of his own thoughts if not deliberate beliefs (merely autonomous beliefs?) via Litt, vis à vis the Holy Trinity, “prayers that ended in ejaculations”, the spasms of Christ on the cross akin to his own crippled state or “krukrukk” (?), the despair of self-identified selfishness and only the ability to “take take take”, and the World Ward Championship of blowing bubbles at the age of 13 in front of the Sisters. Also his autonomous rêvelation, arguably, on today’s world: “…not that they were lying because they were bless them all saying the very thing they believed…” Do please read the rest of that passage! Meanwhile, you will no doubt need patience yourself in following this real-time review and please forgive any spoilers, however much I intend to suppress them.

  3. —> Page 30
    Miraculously, just after I made the second cross-reference above, I have now read the next few pages of Patience, dealing with Elliott’s view of the art of truth and imagination “Within the white wall”: mind-painting, too, with brush in mouth an abstract. Dappled with “gradual changes of the light upon the white wall.” Exquisitely Proustian moments within these few pages. Synaesthetic, too.

  4. —> Page 39
    “By the afternoon Jim arrived I had become very good at being patient so good that I expected to be able to live out the rest of my time on that ward…”
    Or ‘on that wOrd’, being patient as well as A patient? Meanwhile, I was always bound to be swept off my literary feet by any book that mentions the “soundworld” of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony 6 and Kindertotenlieder! And echoes — if it is only me that can hear them! — of Thomas Mann, the classical music in his Dr Faustus and the sanatorium wards in his Magic Mountain. Meanwhile, again, Elliott (telepathically?) witnessing and interpreting other patients or inmates themselves witnessing visions in the white wall, such as shipwrecks and hazy semantics of the word ‘land’. Resonances of “wheeled me and put on the brake. I was close to the white wall…”, the sororal “every burden is a gift”, Elliott’s wff and hff speech versus his writing, and who, I ask, is this ‘Jim’ the arrival of whom seems to be timed by the number of receipts of birthday or Christmas cards yet to precede such an arrival?

  5. —> Page 50
    “Being changed is just that being changed as a being a thing in a profound way but on the surface level it is a humiliation…”
    This somehow gets better and better, as we continue to see life in the wards through Elliott’s eyes, and one Christmas Jim arrives, and the emergence of him is a masterstroke of being seen, not that we can see the wards’ life through HIS eyes; it is as if his eyes have been fazed or phased out by the dots seen by Luke concurrently in King’s The Institute. Luke, who is also being humiliated. These two books have nothing in common at root, yet they have everything in common, so far, by dint of me reading them roughly at the same time. Also some striking scenes in this section of the Litt pages, where Elliott oversees a ‘changing’ contest, between Sisters’ who change nappies or diapers best, flippety flip flippety fluff, not arf! And the sad tale of a Sister who left a girl patient in the bath too long untended… changing, though, is half the battle. And you will need patience to truly grasp the nature of Jim, unless you finish the book before I do. And I am determined to continue suppressing plot spoilers, in any event.

  6. —> Page 61
    You know, you will have to read these priceless passages for yourself, equivalent to a Joycean Molly’s Monologue in Elliott-style, about the crudely Banksy-like blue-biro graffiti in an Arndale Centre disabled loo and the green McDonald’s gherkin thrown at a coach window behind which we sit alongside Elliott. A steadfast inchoeaten gherkin. And his inchoate sexual awakening thoughts, the ones about Lise and her knees…. and one’s reading brain gradually gets the inchoeatable word-rhythms of this book…. the parthenogenetic spirting of virgin milk et al.

  7. —> Page 74
    “…in greens that were doorways to shy sly gardens of other greens that tree green had only hinted at.”
    Moments or a single moment, that seem exquisitely to bring back what I said earlier above in this review about the flow of words by Gerald Manley Hopkins, here, for me, somehow now blended with parts of Eliot’s (not Elliott’s) Four Quartets… Dylan Thomas, too? Jim acting as a blind goalkeeper in the inmates’ corridor game of Sockball. Jim who also acts as apotheosis or catalyst of a “dream wheelie” by Elliott on his wheelchair as part of manoeuvres in the game. A game eventually of perceived greenfinch greens on lino lines. On the cusp of a new friendship? Crowblack-silhouettes or interleaved feathers of green against a white wall? Beauty-eruptions. To match the head explosions here earlier today.

  8. —> Page 90
    …and thus has sort of proceeded my gestalt real-time reviewing over the years. Seeking some sort of God, and I admire the taking for granted here by Elliott of his Catholic God, and the rituals involved as he gets a closer look at Jim, a gradual rapprochement or accretive jigsaw in these pages, knowing as if by osmosis as well as evidence that “he was an institutional boy just like the institutional boy I had myself started to become all those nine Christmases ago”, Jim as a hero perhaps to be worshipped or more, the ceiling as membrane or tympanum, Jim the happy-maker who stood by his lines even though he couldn’t see them in games only feel them, the patience of the fisher, the endemic rhythms of Steve Reich, the moonlight and the mothlight, the bone-conscious skeleton, being good AT nothing not FOR it. The jigsaw shifts into shape beautifully, patiently. “But was he dead?”

  9. —> Page 100
    “…and despairing at us all having to live in such a fallen and constantly falling universe thump.”
    The incident, the accident, the generous spillage of bright blood, the princesses, the consequent lipstick – is it a coincidence that the word ‘redeem’ begins ‘red’? And Jim’s eventual rescue from death, even possible deblinding. Elliott’s suspense of waiting with stretchy and twitchy and trogging sense of time about Jim’s resurrection, not only by dint of Mahler, but now a Schubert song, obliquely by Messiaen’s birdsong. Elliott is a believable mix of inchoateness and intellectuality. Perhaps a character that should go down in literary history, like Joyce’s young man as an artist, Dickens’ Smike… I can think of several famous characters, but none can really equate to the uniqueness of Elliott. Jim’s skull and Humpty Dumpty (cf Tem’s “even with their advanced methods of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again” in his HEAD EXPLOSIONS concurrently reviewed here) and emotional semaphores by someone’s ponytail swishes…a sick dizziness “…no longer just a wound but a baby pink lesion with orange details like Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings…”

  10. —> Page 112
    “…and perhaps because Jim thought he was comforting a girl he’d hurt so I squeezed as hard as I could to tell him I was a boy.”
    I hesitate to say this for fear of the passion or hyperbole of the real-time moment in reading a book, but this is probably one of the most poignantly and visually effective and moving, slowly moving, too, moments in literature, as rapprochement of Jim and Elliott reaches inchoate fruition, with ‘my’ hum-singing as Elliott trying to articulate and Jim’s corridor blindness by wooden gate and clumsy emotions of feistiness and cross purpose, and the ricochet upon my nose. The mixed blood, the mixed message. Supremely done. And I think of Swift’s Houyhnhnms, intelligent horses seeming appropriate with the bloody nose somehow and the dignity of humanity pervading even the most inchoate. Especially as part of my vocal enunciation almost went unnoticed without speech marks: “Hnyhmm.” As more of my hum-singing.

  11. —> Page 123
    “…like a work of twelve-tone Viennese serialism as far as I understand it plink plonk accompanying me through my prayers my change dressing Mass Ready Brek and snickety-wheel-along to the horse’s usual stall the wall…”
    I have long said (evidentially) that an Anton Webern piece every morning at breakfast sets a soul up for the coming day! Well, Elliott now seems more to be living a life as part of a Mozart Horn Concerto. As he waits patiently or even less than patiently for some sort of blood redemption alongside Jim. By the wooden gate. That defiant symbol of God and the opposite of God. Elliott’s struggle to manage articulate sounds is only one aspect of this spiritual battle. A form of inferred telepathy, too, between the two main protagonists is in the mode of what I am concurrently reading about in King’s The Institute — or at least a form of mutual horse-whispering. Some mighty passages in these pages that deserve the attention of all readers of modern literature.

  12. —> Page 134
    “Here is where a hero would become a hero by refusing to be anywhere but Here…”
    This is essential stuff. Whether “blood brothership” or destructive symbiosis, I now see I was meant to spot that earlier near hidden Hnyhmm now dropped gift-like between the pair’s synergy, even though Elliott is now a “donkey” through such undermining? These rudiments of growth where Sisters want to become confessional priests, sights of Jesus with the wooden or narrow gate, Catholic martyrs, light on the white wall, puking brownly, and, I also like music performed badly sometimes, a new music, new notes, a new slant. Reading patiently this book every morning first thing has become a sort of religious act of literature … amid the Here and Now….

  13. —> Page 149
    “defiance penitence defiance penitence”
    The days of Jim’s noble and holy defiance continue to be counted down, amid pot throwing and clay, a Biblical walking on the other side, the various spellings of Elliott’s “Hyhmmnh”, none of them typos, I guess, the hum of the hum-bone, and I am both delighted and spoiler-sad that I appeared to get it right when identifying this Swiftian-like word when it was hidden away as if itself was a spasm or typo or glitch or involuntary twitch or token of tourettes, viz. “…my Hyhhmmh-into-the silence goo from a prop nobody saw into a prickly actor everybody saw but not a donkey no a fine proud horse galloping galloping happily galloping across a wide flat space towards vaster faster possibilities and more glorious escapes and escapades.” The Here of being hauled or hawled to the chapel. “…my word-hoarding and secret in-head-writing so causing Jim to be near me was world-changing for me as well as ward-changing for the long corridor.” Elliott’s worry that Jim will grow hairs in places beyond just being a boy. And momentously this morning at 6 a.m. on Radio 4, David Attenborough’s Tweet of the Day was the greenfinch. “…of almost greenfinch-green moss with gorgeous golden flecks…” Schubert’s mighty String Quintet factored-in, too. The invention of language between Jim and Elliott with clups, clucks and thumps. Was my earlier inference of some Institutional telepathy being involved wrong, then? The humming pervades, though. The Conspiracy that religion involves, “wheelies of my dreams”, “my horse-like speed.” And the growth of impure acts in boys, at least inferred.

  14. —> Page 162
    “the delicious presence of him Jim”
    There is a sense of future loss as Elliott’s, for me, asexual yet hand-holding bromance with Jim grows, Elliott’s white album wall now in conflict with new interests and feelings, such as singing along with Beatles songs, matching words difficult to manage with more singable ones. Lise and the Princesses are more sexually attractive to Elliott, I guess, but in an oblique way of a softy pretty bone-hum rather than a hard boner. My latter expression, not the book’s.
    “halfway through a bone-hum when I had run out of hymn tunes to hum that I hadn’t hummed before”
    “where we were the ward which for him was under the sea.”
    The latter a bit like King’s Gorky Park part of the Institute.
    Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique symphony now. Six not sex. Continues to be an inspiring complexly naive flow of thought assumed to be written down by Elliott, words he cannot vocalise, as helped by Litt’s filter of literature. Thump of the Day, not Tweet.
    “…there was always more gorgeous detail than I had time or senses for and every caterpillar-of-a-When immediately became a butterfly-of-a-What and flew off into the flock of a thousand interplexing Whats whose air-dance of now being like this and now being like that…”

  15. —> Page 179
    “Sometimes I wonder how it it meaning my life would have been different if I had been able to get the Princesses or Finn to understand the word Brake and to place Jim’s right hand down upon it and show him how the round shiny black plastic knob… […] …the brown hair he patted down in handy follops my shoulders arms and the wheelchair’s arms until he came on the left side to nothing and the right side to the black shiny plastic knob which I felt his fingers take and push forwards and my world shifted.”
    Please forgive me for quoting so much from the start of this momentously consuming journey as Jim pushes Elliott in the wheelchair towards the wooden gate. In the context of Elliott’s disarming self-awareness (“Elliott watching Elliott waking”), real choking and pretend choking, more Beatle songs as if magically fitting the flowing fates of this text, “the world of green freedom outside”, chew-chew choo-choo Vroo Vroo, the strongest reference to telepathy in this book so far at the end of the penultimate paragraph (“miracle of miracles”) on page 170, “gruntering”, “little stars sounded so much like little horse”, the blessing of “a wheelchair a horse on a ward not the least of which being that of this particular moment”…real-time…”I had felt happy then just as I feel happy now because my time was not routine my time was an adventure…”
    Lyrics from the song BOYS included on the Beatles’ first LP in 1963 that I bought with my own money at the age of 15:
    “I been told when a boy kiss a girl
    Take a trip around the world
    Hey, hey (bop shuop, m’bop bop shuop)
    Hey, hey (bop shuop, m’bop bop shuop)
    Hey, hey (bop shuop), yeah, she say ya do (bop shuop)
    Well, I talk about boys (yeah, yeah, boys)
    Don’t ya know I mean boys (yeah, yeah, boys)
    Well, I talk about boys, now (yeah, yeah, boys)
    Aah (yeah, yeah, boys)
    Well, I talk about boys, now (yeah, yeah, boys)
    What a bundle of joy! (yeah, yeah, boys)”
    I don’t think they sung anything from Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Patience’, but ‘Prudence’ was on their White Album, along with ‘Glass Onion’.

  16. —> Page 195
    Very powerful passages, bone layers, lift numbers as layers to be reached above or below, numbers as people in meaty groups of two, three or four, the existence of Jesus and the moon, hug-objects, meatiness as an inchoate view of sex, a brand of contented jealousy about holding and beholding. Jim, Lise, Elliott, thump thump. I am growing more and more in tune with Elliott’s thoughts as if I am seeing things through his mind. I can hardly give this text a greater compliment, surely. I feel the dawning yearnings in my humming bones. I foresee more than just shattering or fulfilling of such patient yearnings, to escape or to be embraced further. The only escape would be to stop reading it.

  17. —> Page 210
    “splodgy houses families sunrises and bloody battles of the other children all of which looked very rough next to Toby’s pencil drawings of his left hand over and over again his left hand.”
    Scenes of Elliott painting, and that bit above reminds me to question – even if I once knew, but have now forgotten – how Elliott ‘writes’ his thoughts in this Toby’s Litt literature with Elliott spending these pages striving to paint a walking stick as an indicator he wants that very walking stick to reach the bottom button of the lift when pushed there with wheelchair “horsepower” by Jim, Jim who spends his time in concupiscent canoodling, Tristan and Isolde like, with Lise, thus canoodling out of Sororal sight, but a canoodling that Elliott describes (or paints with words) with some inchoate panache that you will never forget!

  18. —> Page 226
    “When the walking stick clattered behind us as it landed on the floor and skidded a bit towards the gate…”
    There is much intended and perhaps unintended meaning, as we increasingly become in page-turning suspense with what happens in this ineluctable ‘dying fall’ of a Callas or callous opera. I will surely finish this book today, in the circumstances. It has been eked out long enough, savoured, distilled and now demanding a fell swoop of attention to follow Elliott… no longer at the still point where we deign, too, to “look at the birds or into whiteness.” Was there not a song called Blackbird in the White Album (‘Take these broken wings and learn to fly’). And also a certain naive Ringo gruffly intoning therein a song that I imagine Jim and Lise felt in tune with (‘No one will be watching us’).

  19. —> Page 249

    “…thinking about dying-Schubert-living made me take the lift down inside myself sinking to the basement where my Caretakers stored all my care…”

    All three having a new life in tune with the three horses at the end. A trinity in this text, and since I wrote the previous entry above, a perceived “sinful indifference or callous evil” in a silver car. The synaesthesia even rapture of LITTer in life’s lay-by, “papal purple”, now in evidence even if it weren’t in the lobby. More blackbird poignancy now attuned to Debussy … and horse galloping hopes in these pages. Beethoven, Philip G,ass, Viva,Di… and a stinky syphillitic Schubert as a homeless man. A vision of a foot-washing Jesus, Lise in bare feet herself. A sort of wheelchair ragbag Trinity in Mad Max tournament with walking stick pointed forward reminding me of early Picasso… “pink dots on yellow sticks” to go with all the humming and hahing. This ending just poignant perfect with hope at least implicated for a nonce… deeply felt and revelatory. This work is certainly a significant one in the annals of literature. I wonder if I am destined to be a lonely voice saying that. Just another “mouthy mouth.” Just another sound glimpse of hooves galloping into forgotten distance. Whatever, I shall, I most definitely shall, call it a literary classic if not an ‘older’ book and list it in my well-seasoned list here:

    Wednesday, October 23, 2019

    The Institute – Stephen King

    25 thoughts on “The Institute – Stephen King

      Pages 1 – 24
      “The room’s one picture – an unsettling composition depicting a sailing ship crewed entirely by grinning and possibly homicidal black men – hung crooked.”
      As we follow Tim from motel to motel, instead of flying, taking fate at face value, we learn of his backstory or what he tells others about it, as well as based on the research of those others, too. But what is a Night Knocker? The world and and its wife need to know.
    2. —> Page 35
      “, this life we think we’re living isn’t real. It’s just a shadow play, and I for one will be glad when the lights go out on it. In the dark, all the shadows disappear.”
      As a Night Knocker not in a hurry, Tim meets the people up and about in the small hours. And the incidents thenabouts, and the help he can give those folk. Interstitial people, I might call them, even if this book doesn’t.
      “I don’t know how an abyss can be full —“
      Amazing material about a 12 year old boy called Luke, to whose character and circumstances we grow page-turningly accustomed, including his super-ratiocination as a child prodigy, his humble parents, the plans for him until he is taken away by this book, a book and its characters as Institute, that replicates his room, but with newer if otherwise identical accoutrements, a house and family whence he has been kidnapped.
      There is a certain budding sexuality here, too, with Luke, and with remarkable coincidence I happened to be exposed last night to the Agnes Varda film “Le Petit Amour” (aka Kung-Fu Master!) — and this very morning, I seemed to pick two almost random references, from a Heuvelt story here, one to ‘williwags’ of which I had never before heard and the other of ‘wiggling hands in pockets’. In this section of the King, together on a single page, are “Way up in the williwags” and “She wriggled her hand into the pocket of her pants…”
      Perhaps I am a smart old man prodigy!?
    4. Pingback: Synchronicity rampant… | THE DES LEWIS GESTALT REAL-TIME REVIEWS Edit
    5. Pingback: In the williwags | THE DES LEWIS GESTALT REAL-TIME REVIEWS Edit
      —> Page 85
      “No, I can’t even wiggle my ears.”
      Patience is needed, as we gradually learn more about this sinisterly close-ordered Institute, our garnering its gestalt piecemeal, as I do, too, by remarkable chance happenstance, by dint of another book I am concurrently reading here, another institute of youngsters that we are gradually learning about and their situation, an interesting complementary contrast of prodigies in the King being surveilled (“They’re like missionaries selling a Jesus to a bunch of Indians…”) versus Litt’s differently sick children under the more direct gaze of God via the sorority of Sisters. Here in the King, too, one of the girls blowing “a long bubbly honk” and later spitting… Here, today, too, we learn more about Luke’s situation, the levels (Pos- or Pinks) of telepathy and telekinesis (TP and TK), weird eye tests, the bugs or “minges”, the buzz of booze control, the various characters and their potential ‘canoodling’… and the slow build up of chess games, some that finish earlier than expected. And not forgetting the clutch of names on page 72: Ellis, Iles, Kalisha, Iris, Adonis…
    7. —> Page 106
      “As, always, each piece of information led to three more (or six, or twelve), and eventually, a coherent picture began to emerge. A kind of terrain map.”
      I can’t tell you what the precocious 12 year old called Luke gradually discovered about this press-gang situation at this book’s inner Institute, what he learns about its perceived motives, the varying natures of the people in charge or just working there, the other child prodigies, their encouragement techniques of tokens and slaps, the dots to see, the Front Half and the progression to the Back Half, and much more. Each reader needs to allow the growing gestalt of the situation to dawn on them gradually in real-time without me telling them first. Like Luke’s room at the Institute when compared to the room back at his home, the book itself might not be quite the same as the book I am reading when compared to the book you are reading. What is more, I myself might not be reliable. Just as one trial example, the “hospital corners” entailed when helping to make beds: please do check to see if you have them written about in your version of the book.
      —> Page 126
      Young Luke demeaned through buttock-interstitial invasive temperature-taking by staff despite the more dignified technical facilities otherwise available at the Institute, not to put too fine a point on it, that the British call ‘buggered’. Like, Brexit, I infer — within the tunnel today in my own real-time. Also later being touched high on his thigh by a girl co-inmate!
      Feeling homesick, too. Thoughts of Popeye the Salior Man. A genius boy like Luke with such past trivial enthusiasms. Now transcending the Institute-restricted web portals via HG Wells’ Invisible (Interstitial?) Man. News of Trump and North Korea. TP as Telepathy or Tommy Pickles or ‘teacher’s pet’ or Thumper? A Dr Hendricks here to match the painter Hendrick in ‘Sight Unseen’: a novel concurrently being real-time reviewed here. Avery is the name of a new boy at the Institute who is younger than Luke, and who wets himself upon first awaking to his incarceration within the Institute as this book as well the Institute itself.
    9. —> Page 149
      “New Kid began to make ‘urk-urk’ noises, his considerable belly heaving.”
      DEBTS AND DOTS, for me to read about in this section of pages. Each dot, if not each debt, for Luke, that do “bloom bigger than the last: ‘bwoosh’ out and ‘zip’ back in, ‘bwoosh’ and ‘zip’. They were going 3-D,…”
      “No regret. Zero empathy. Nothing. Luke realized he wasn’t a child at all to her. She had made some crucial separation in her mind. He was a test subject.”
    10. —> Page 176
      Tests galore, MRI and telepathic, and dark discoveries, of those “slain”, on the web, for Luke. Mr Griffin — HG Wells’ Invisible Man — as the Internet’s back door … also to the “back half of Back Half”? See today’s chance real-time review of Rasnic Tem’s INVISIBLE earlier today here.
      “Luke thought about asking if George had gone on seeing the dots after the projector was off.” See SIGHT UNSEEN earlier today here.
      “‘fine as paint.’ Whatever that meant.”
      “They’re OxyContin.” The Opioid used in QUICHOTTE here. A recent review.
      “…a good example of how telepathy was all wrong. You knew way too much, and way too soon.” Think about it. No age limiting certificates for telepathy!
      “…back to his books. Because there was an abyss, and books contained magical incantations to raise what was hidden there:” — and don’t I know it!!
      —> Page 198
      Tests, dolls, debts, dots and shots. And strange telepathic reports of those now in the Back Half watching cartoons and other films, and unlit sparklers. A bit like a book where the second half (as yet not reached) lacks the sparkle of the first half? Luke is now an old timer in the Front Half (despite still being 12, I think) — and he experiences scenes of two other kids having seizures or simply dying like a broken rag doll. Droning, too. Psychic droning? Or just bees buzzing? I think this book is coming clearer in my mind. This Institute, a Mann sanatorium from Magic Mountain, a Ishiguro Never Let Me Go sort of place, a Toby Litt Patience religious place for catholic cripples, a Poe Tarr & Fether, “an old-time mental asylum where the crazy people were just kept and never cured”, or a place where madnesses or high sensitivities / skills are being weaponised? Who is spying on whom. Where, oh where, is my own Ice Machine dead-surveillance area in my head to prevent anyone spying on the plot spoilers there? My “inertial glide”, notwithstanding. (I mentioned droning, but I think I got away with it, as nobody is reading this, hidden away as it is as part of the attrition of actually reading this book, let alone anybody actually bothering to follow a real-time review of it like this is!)
      “‘She looked like a doll,’ Luke heard himself say. ‘She looked like her own doll.’”
    12. —> Page 217
      “, doing lackadaisical seat-drops and tummy-bounces”
      The Institute, if not the book that contains it, is in lackadaisical entropy with decrepit fixtures and fittings. Hey, come to my Ice Machine surveillance area, and I’ll tell you plot spoilers galore, for example that Luke has already escaped from this book despite having only six hairs on his balls, after being dunked in a tank to prove by default that he is not a telepath; still, you know all that already. And you know the ending before I do as I have not yet read that far. Some of you already know how it ends BEFORE reading that far! You’re already in the Back Half at least in spirit. Meanwhile, for me, dots and debts, and now doubts.
    13. —> Page 242
      “, a balls-to-the-wall train freak.”
      And in this constructively but relentlessly attritional section of Luke’s rite of extramural passage towards or actually already IN the Back Half, as at least part of me assumes here he is to be, digging with ice machine info-scoop curves or grooves under wire fences, unlike the autonomous grooves of rivers, and Luke creating the Platonic Form of Van Gogh’s Earlobe, after the seat-drops and tummy-bounces, towards what turns out, by premeditated default, to be the land of the Night Knocker of which I had almost forgotten. The talisman of the scarf, notwithstanding. The ready boat ride, too. And the onward relentlessness of physical train engines pin pullers hard cargo near misses of discovery trundling trugging twitchy stretchy time tracks hard runnels sleep tunnels of metal and bone shaking…
      —> Page 272
      “There are tons of beans in Beantown”
      Cetra-cetra, and even – or especially? – a reader like me has that sort of queasy madness, too, as we readers also reach some sort of back half, what shall I call it? An utilitarian entropy, a sloppiness, as if this Institute is even less dependable or kept up to scratch than that in Poe’s Tarr and Fether or in John Cowper Powys’ The Inmates, and Mrs Thigsby what can I say about her? The Zero Phone is a version of this hub of gestalt real-time reviewing, taking on its madness? She sits at her desk staring into space just like the headmistress in Hanging Rock. One of her pupils gone awol, one sandwich short of a picnic. A short way via this back half to approach death with equanimity. And Shirley Temple was NEVER ‘cute’, by the way.
      “No matter what they do to us with those lights and those goddam movies, I have to hold on. I have to hold on to my mind.”
    15. —> Page 304
      “, you keep climbing higher and higher on the assumption tree, and each branch is thinner than the last.”
      It’s good to follow a whodunnit story or whereishegoing story when knowing the answer that only you know. And when those in the story know less than you. They are assuming, but you know. Even the storyteller, you tell yourself, knows less than you by dint of the gestalt real-time reviewing that you are doing, something you are doing beyond any literary theory of Intentional Fallacy. Here, in which train cargo truck you are sitting listening to what is going on in another. The doughnut crumbs, notwithstanding, with the shit-splat of a place where you will get off, being willed or at least prayed into being, to become one different from the place where those who are trying to follow your journey think this place will be, with you, meanwhile, willing or praying into being another place by some different plot your own fugitive journey-track is actually taking. Characters put in place accordingly. Right from the very start one character was ready-made to end up being someone you would meet at journey’s end. Books do not change between readings. They are cast permanently in changeless print. Except some books, especially books by King. King books have the beauty of being subject to both a fixed destiny and fluid free will in the process of reading them in real-time.
    16. HELL IS HERE
      —> Page 330
      “Everything was important now.”
      “, where a double-locked door beyond the caretakers’ break room led to the back half of Back Half. The caretakers often called that part Gorky Park, because the kids who lived there (if you could call it living) were gorks. Hummers.”
      Hummers are Here and Now. I knew if I waited with Patience they would appear Here as well as There. Meanwhile, we are presented with an alternating of Luke’s story and Avery’s story now. Both in their own version of Back Half, I guess. Intrigued that their previous rooms at home are refabricated here – but not quite, as with the Lego castle in Avery’s case. Tim’s story, too. Did I mention that Tim was his name when he started work at the beginning as a Night Knocker? I can’t remember unless I look back towards the Front Half of this review. And why do the movies the kids are shown in the Institute’s Back Half hurt? What is this “headache-sponge”? Something hat I need to transcend as a reader of this book? ‘Tarr and Fether’ crop up in my mind again as I think of us readers needing somehow to pre-empt this book, and, indeed, one of its characters now slips in this warning to us: “If wcan’t escape, we have to take the place over.”
      “I see the pieces, but I don’t know how to put them together, I don’t . . .” (The book’s ellipsis, not mine.)
    17. —> Page 355
      “The residents of Back Half – the front half of Back Half, that was; the eighteen currently in Gorky Park remained behind their locked door, humming away —“
      Talk of more and more humming eventually towards a “white-noise roar”, and now talk of “united mental force, a kind of Vulcan mind meld,” which brings to my own mind meld a magical alliance of fiction as well as, now, of truth — as all truth and fiction are part of each other, one creating the other, and vice versa, in this world today. A mutual synergy for good or ill. As I sense the child inmates being brainwashed with Bibles and Preacherman du Pray tropes in a movie shown in the Back Half, a slow withdrawal of any mind meld, by attacking the individual minds that constitute it by means of headache-sponging and more dots. Luke feels this mind meld in his own one-horse town with ‘pray’ in its name, where he is being questioned. Meanwhile, the sparkler lit or unlit. The levers, and the fate of Avery. As an aside, I do recall the game of HORSE earlier at the Institute, but so far I can’t yet find reference to it by riffling through the preceding pages. If this were an ebook I could have searched for HORSE. Perhaps even hard print books can be retroactively airbrushed?
    18. —> Page 380
      “Telepathy always sounded great in stories and movies, but it was annoying as fuck in real life. It came with the hum, which was a drawback.”
      “The heart of the hum.” There is no escape from anywhere or anyone, even for the readers of this book, as they become part of this mutiny. Attack on all of us for giving our children such short shrift in life. Luke is there, too, effectively, not only via Maureen’s nightmarish filming of the weird undersea look of Gorky Park on the computer stick. But also he is still there by some of them having come to get him! But, most of all, Luke is still there via real-time gestalt telepathy, the short circuits of fiction being a part of that process. ‘Riding the hum’, as well as riding the Horse or Houyhnhnm. Feedback hums, tasers and torture. The only way to feel the full effect of such two-ways filters of fiction is to get truly involved with a book via gestalt real-time reviewing it — a mutual, sometimes antagonistic, synergy. But who wins? The book or yourself? This is King, not only prime and vintage King, but also OFF THE WALL KING! Madness instilled into the back half of the back half of his mind, and thus of your mind, too.
      “Just because their bodies are locked up, that doesn’t mean their minds are.”
    19. —> Page 404
      “The children of the Institute called out to Luke.”
      “…like watching an underwater ballet.”
      “Did they send an army for one little boy?”
      “Keeping the world safe for democracy was secondary. Keeping it safe full stop was primary.”
      By the art of ends justifying the means, and the new normal, we are all now stuck “in the tunnel between Back Half and Front Half.” Chased there by zealots. But we are polarised zealots, too. This book is catharsis, I hope. The battle won in these action scenes of gunfire as an irresistible gestalt meets an as yet immovable gestalt. All those kids of ours gone missing who we did not really realise till now had gone missing, at least partially explained if not yet avenged. Explained by this metaphor of fiction made real as if by communal magic. An alliance of fiction.
      —> Page 443
      “They kissed in the hum.”
      The Big Phone. The Zero Phone, too. The overall boss man lisping through the latter and he calls the underboss woman Thigsby as I mentioned somewhere above. The Big Phone is part of the absurdist dream of the child inmates, gorks or otherwise, mingled with approximations to their own abodes back home. A group power as well as tourettes spasm saying ya-ya-ya-ya. Humming growing louder, fears of being gassed, as rival forces approach. Luke alone, or Avery alone, nothing would have happened — but together they become a ‘synchronicity’ and surely part of our ‘emoluments’ as readers? “A mind race instead of an arms race,” Mutiny as virus especially in our Information Age, the big phone now bigger. Bigger version of that in Luke’s childhood home. And getting bigger. Towards biggest. A bit like my own blower inside the skull? Night knocking inside, even in daylight. The hum cycled up, and I still have no proof whether the kids used to play something called HORSE. Tim’s impulse journey from the start. Only madness can create such mind-affecting synchronicities from fiction, I suggest. Talking to the far-away kids. Important question of mutual synergy: ‘Children’s Crusade’ (1896) by Marcel Schwob (my review: A global revolt.
    21. —> Page 482
      “The hum had reached a new deafening level.”
      A dialling tone or simply the world unbalancing? About to reach tipping-point. A children’s crusade as they join hands like books of fiction also do, with not only telepathy and telekinesis, but also precognition. But other forces, too, some disguised as history’s ends and means. Even Nazis lisp. Mindquake. Everything was coming apart. The plot’s outcome is both sad and satisfyingly provocative, too, and balanced between its own ends and means. Suicide watch. Probability studies. “…the world running downhill like a kid’s jalopy with no hand to guide it.”
      What I claim I can do is not remotely moving pizza pans but distantly fluttering book pages. I want an Avester T shirt. “…but right now I’m in the williwags.”
      “These chirrun are reading your mind. Tickles, don’t it?”