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From: "Roy C. Lackey" <rclackey@stic.net>
Subject: (urth) PEACE: From the thicket
Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2001 14:46:04 

As has happened to me all too many times on this list, by the time I get
around to posting something I find that someone else has beaten me to the
draw, said what I wanted to say, at least in part . . . blah . . blah, and
that is what's happened with this post, but I'm still too lazy to re-write
it. <g> So, some of what follows has already been touched on by others.

Adam's doubts about whether or not the conversation(s) between Weer and Gold
ever took place has caused me to re-evaluate the basic assumptions
underlying my interpretation of PEACE. What if Adam is right? To go further;
what if _all_ the episodes dealing directly with Weer are fabrications,
entire or partial? It has been mentioned before, by others, that much (most)
of what is related in the book has little or nothing to do with Weer. Of
what remains, the autobiographical details are scattered, all too skeletal,
almost arbitrary and incidental to what he has chosen to write about.

If it were not for the fallen elm, and Wolfe's own testimony to the
contrary, one might reasonably argue that Weer isn't even dead, that the
whole book is just a boy's idle bookish dreams, from which Aunt Vi will soon
wake him, or an old man's bitter regrets, which death will soon make more
palatable. But Weer _is_ dead, and that is the one solid fact from which an
understanding of PEACE must proceed. The frametale--even if that frame
exists only in the hollow of his grave-bound skull--is Weer's only
"reality", the backdrop of his life-after-death. So far as can be
determined, Weer is the sole occupant of the frametale. (Never mind the door
he thought he heard close, or his aunt on the intercom; there was no Persian
room either; it's all his imagination, and Wolfe is reported in an interview
to have denied, in effect, that any such memory-mansion would have existed.)

All those instances where something from his frametale existence intrudes
into some seeming "real-life" event that he is "remembering" (consulting Dr.
V for a non-existent stroke, telling the future to Dr.B, telling Lois that
he was waiting at his desk when he was sitting in his car, giving her his
future phone number, begging Sherry's forgiveness for not rising due to his
"stroke", etc.) clearly could not be true, did not happen in the real world,
or at the least did not happen quite as he describes them. I think those
anachronisms are Wolfe's way of telling the reader that Weer is fabricating
those episodes, in whole or part, as his way of coping with the
life-after-death situation he finds himself in, however and whyever he came
to be in that situation.

As mantis pointed out early on in last autumn's big PEACE discussion, even
when Weer re-tells an almost familiar tale, say from Lang or Burton, the
story he tells is never quite right, not as it was in the original. More
recently, I noted the same type of thing was done with the Sidhe story. The
point is that Weer is not above changing around the stories to serve his own
ends, which fact might be noticed by the knowledgeable reader. I think this
is Wolfe's way of letting that reader know that what Weer writes about can't
be relied on as gospel.

The bit of the Boyne diary mentioned by Adam is told from the third-person
pov; diaries aren't written that way, nor is the excerpt quoted. When Gold
starts to read to Weer from the NECRONOMICON, what he translates starts off
in quotation marks, then Weer stops to describe Gold's demeanor. When the
text continues in the next paragraph it is no longer quoted, and remains
that way to the end of the chapter. Gold is no longer reading. When Hannah
starts to tell Den the story of Jack and Molly, they are in his mother's
kitchen, but the scene soon shifts to Sugar Creek and Katie is telling the
story to Hannah and Maud Mill, complete with interruptions from Maud. Weer
has to be making that up; he wasn't there to hear it. For that matter, even
very early in the book, at his birthday party, when his mother asks Hannah
where the children are, he obviously wasn't there to hear her ask.

I think mantis may be right about the Walter Mittyish nature of Weer's life,
that he lived vicariously through books--and lived to regret it. The
coldhouse prank may have been no more than just another ghost story, like
those told by his Aunt Bella and Uncle Julius. The whole Charlie
Turner/Doris part has always struck me as very improbable. Sherry giving
herself to Weer to save her father strikes me as unrealistic, more like a
sexual fantasy. The "non-explanation", as Adam put it, of the gun and its
disposal is another instance of the frametale intruding on "reality"; one of
the options he tells Sherry for getting rid of it is to throw it in "the
bottom drawer of my bureau". That not only doesn't get rid of the gun, but
the bureau is in the museum-room duplicate of his Commons apartment. As
happens elsewhere in the text, his mind wanders back to his frametale
existence and his distractedness is glossed over or ignored by the
"real-world" character present, in this case, Sherry. As for Lois and the
Gold Hunt, well, I think mantis has covered that part of the story already
in a recent post, even if not even he is buying it. <g>

Mantis's dissatisfaction comes, I think, because if all, or even most of
what Weer writes about is lies or fantasies, then what are we left with?
What is the point? I'm no happier than is he with this kind of
interpretation, but how else to account for those real-world anachronisms
above? And those were just off the top of my head; there're bound to be


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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