Hi Effy! Oh, that's another thing I have to get back to!
(Previously: Part 1: Carajo, Un Balazo! Part 2: Bring Me The Sun Part 3: The Same Amount Of Ice Part 4: Get My Swan Costume Ready Part 5: Do You Hear The Rain? Part 6: Vancouver! Vancouver! Part 7: Me L'aspettavo Part 8: Ja Maar Niet Te Veel Part 9: On The Ground! Part 10: Transcript #001 Part 11: My Time Outside The Womb)
I wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her and sleep. Not fuck, like in those movies. Not even have sex. Just sleep together, in the most innocent sense of the phrase. But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was a drizzle and she was a hurricane.Note I wrote in the margins of page 88: GET THIS SHIT TATTOOED ON YOUR FACES, NERDS
Note I wrote in the margins of page 93 (after underlined phrase "the highway's monotonous lullaby"): RELAX JOHN GREEN
Then everyone comes back. Lara tries to give Pudge a beej by just popping his dick in her mouth and sitting there, waiting for it to do something. Later The Colonel points out that you also aren't supposed to blow, despite the name. I had not read this book when I made my "Nerdfuckers" video, so I'm pretty sure John Green and I both used to watch the MTV Soap Undressed.
Later, Alaska reveals the rosetta stone of her MPDGdom: when she was a young girl, her mother suffered an aneurysm in front of her. And Alaska wasn't like those miracle toddlers or dogs you hear about--she didn't call 911. She froze, and watched her mother die. Pudge shares with us one of his darker last-word anecdotes: when William McKinley was dying, his wife became hysterical, crying and screaming that she wanted to go too. And he told her: "We are all going." According to Sarah Vowell in her book Assassination Vacation, Ida McKinley passed the rest of her days knitting socks in a chair. The McKinley museum displays her silk yarn bag, on which she'd sewed a picture of her husband's face.
I wish there was a funny anecdote to balance all of that out, but I read Vowell's book a long time ago and am only just skimming it now. Her McKinley section is mostly about how The Republican party turned from the antislavery party of Lincoln to the neo-con World-Dominion party of George W. Bush. So, you know, not exactly laugh-a-minute. But did you know that Thomas Edison popularized the electric chair as part of a campaign to smear his opponents at Westinghouse? Their AC electricity was becoming more popular than his DC, and so Edison started showing people how AC current could kill dogs and horses. Prison wardens were like "Hey! Do you think that could kill people too?" And Edison suggested that the verb form of "to kill with electricity" be "to Westinghouse" someone. DICK MOVE TO THE MAX. How does that relate to McKinley? Leon Czolgosz was the only Presidential Assassin to be executed that way. (John Wilkes Booth was shot during a standoff with Union soldiers, Charles Guiteau was hanged, and Lee Oswald was a patsy--JFK was killed by aliens.)
Pattinson in Little Ashes. A while after passing out, Pudge is woken by Alaska, who is hysterical and asking his help in getting her off campus undetected. Pudge does as he is told, distracting the principal so Alaska can drive off into the night for reasons unknown. And she crashes her car into a police barricade and dies.
You only sort of see it coming, and it hurts. And it is at once very MPDG (Alaska is so MPDG she can't even EXIST) and very antiMPDG (she doesn't help Miles grow or learn to appreciate life--she confuses him and teases his dick and then is gone and he's full of blind rage and guilt and horror). The entire school reels at her death, which Pudge both appreciates and resents. They learn that her BAC was very high, and Pudge and The Colonel try to reconcile their complicity in her death.
Note I wrote on page 157: AND YOU WANT TO BE ABLE TO EXCUSE PUDGE AND THE COLONEL, TOO. BUT YOU CAN'T, SHOULDN'T. AND THEN YOU THINK OF EVERY STUPID THING YOUR FRIENDS EVER DID, EVERY STUPID THING YOU EVER DID, AND HOW YOU NEVER STOPPED THEM, AND THEY NEVER STOPPED YOU.
Failing that, they fall headlong into investigating the cause of her death. Complicating the fact that she was drunk is the manner in which, the police report, she drove to her end: straight and fast. Pudge is angry at the idea that she committed suicide, and however patriarchal or terminally Western or whatever else his attitude about this is, at least it's honest. They chase down many leads and really only meet people who are just as fucked up and confused over Alaska's death as they are, and in the end realize they'll never know. The title Looking For Alaska ends up reflecting that "life's mysteries" theme of the whole book: What happened when Alaska died? What happens when anybody dies? What is the labyrinth?