Now folks today we’re going to auction off Missus Pimber’s things. I think you all knew Missus Pimber and you know she had some pretty nice things.
The first two sentences of the book introduce Lucy Pimber. She is scarcely mentioned in what follows. The character gets only a couple of lines. If this were a movie, the actress playing her would not have made the credits. Nevertheless, she is everything to the book. And not just because she is crucial to the story. She is the example of how one can create without waste of words. If not Gass as godly author then at least as a magician summoning up realities with nothing more than an ink-filled wand.
Lucy Pimber is the Higgs particle to B(r)acket Omensetter’s omnipresence. Lucy keeps it together. In comments I alluded to her being capable of being jealous of both those who have more and those who have less. Maybe this resonates with more than one reader but it will be hard to trace this assumption to anything in the book. On scribd I found all of 14 direct references to “Lucy Pimber”. Things like:
All along the front were tall narrow windows Lucy Pimber showed candles in while it snowed on the carolers.
And the sentence re-used in the title about more painted plates. “How can I infer her 360° jealousy from this?”, is not the question. I did. The question is how Gass could have made me to. Talent obviously and skill too, and no doubt substantial amounts of work. But is that enough? I don’t think so. He needed to rely on candles, painted plates and associations of the two. Even with all this – however small the material and however gigantic the skill applied – it can only come together by a certain necessity of Lucy-Pimberism on which to draw.
Of course I can be plain wrong with regard to Gass’ intentions. This illustrates the insufficiency of an author’s intentions with respect to capturing the productive power of words. No amount of structures, riddles or puzzles put in will suffice to fully determine what comes out. Once you have read this, Lucy Pimber will have changed (regardless of how good or bad this is written, regardless what Gass’s appreciation of it would be).
More confused sentences by Guido Nius.
The thing is that I believe this is a story about neurosis and psychosis. Mainly about neurosis, psychosis being entirely second hand interpretation.
Omensetter must have left the cradle behind—left it in the Perkins house—and sometime, closing up or renting out, Lucy Pimber found it there. And never said a word. These years.
To never say a word, is there anything more awful and more common than this? Furber realizes this early on,
You’re loony, you hear me? You’re loony Lucy.
but it is not Lucy people stare at. She is the normal one, as normal as the chewing that will go unmentioned when talking about somebody eating. It is Omensetter who drives people crazy by not wanting to control or pre-empt anything. This is how it is. Happiness ain’t got nothing to do with it. Either you are in control or you are loony.
How do you think Lucy Pimber feels—her husband gone, lost, no one knows where—sitting at home while we walk through the woods looking for him—and in places where no living man should be?
I am sure she felt how she was supposed to feel. That and that her husband was a loser for not over-achieving. The latter can be glanced from her own change of heart:
Furber’s only visit was to Mrs. Lucy Pimber, also convalescing. She had cut her hair and shorn years. He offered her the money that was found on Henry’s body, but she refused to touch it, leaning toward his palm and counting. So that’s what he was getting for the place, she said, at last radiant.
Not that I hate her for it. She is more real than most people achieve in reality. Also: she painted plates and had the tact to take that cradle to her grave. But first and foremost she provided inspiration.
Let me close with a typical trip-up sentence from Gass in “On Being Blue” (I like to quote):
Freud thought that a psychosis was a waking dream, and that poets were daydreamers too, but I wonder if the reverse is not as often true, and that madness is a fiction lived in like a rented room. The techniques, in any case, are similar.
On that note, let me thank Brad again for pointing me to new fairly priced rooms to live out my madness in. I may, like many of us, never be able to become a Freudian subject but I can try to be less of a nuisance to my surroundings. You never know: maybe somebody will want to buy my painted plates. Or at least arrange them decoratively in front of visitors such that they give occasion to have a bit of a chat. No word is ill spoken if it is interested in a response.