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Day 11

W-3 by Bette Howland

Chapter 9 (p. 164–179, to end)

October 29, 2022 by Lynn Steger Strong

This chapter always makes me almost forget this isn't fiction because the choice of this role swap meeting is too good, too terrible. There's so much swapping: the externs traded out; the inmates pick one another's names out of a hat to show each other what they think the other is.

The withholding of information here is fascinating: she does not tell us who everyone hopes to draw at first, never tells us who she picks; instead there's space for us to do a little role-playing: we watch, a little jarred, as Davy Jones rejects performing Bette.

Thread through all of this is what feels like escalation as Trudy's being put on lithium: "They're going to try to help me," she says. But what have we learned about what "help" means here:

    And lithium was like the sleeping pills in the medicine cabinet: the final out, the ultimate disclaimer. It couldn't bring you back; it was only for the damned.

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