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Day 8

W-3 by Bette Howland

Chapter 6 (p. 107-124, to end)

October 26, 2022 by Lynn Steger Strong

"Nights were the primitive hours on W-3": Davy shooting pool, Jeffrey's radio, Trudy's solitaire, Maurice's prowling, the sirens and the flashing lights: the constant rattling of never enough sleep. Maurice saying to Bette maybe he's crazy; Bette thinking she might also be.

It often seemed to me that the soundest sleeper in the world, with the most blissful conscience, would have become an insomniac here, tossing and turning just like the rest of us. So what chance did we have, with our troubled souls?

Further to the point of the "crazy" coming for you differently once you get to W-3: Trudy: supposed to be in isolation, but popping up in other people's beds at night, in the shower with Yvette, also maybe representative of something inside everyone that no one wants to see:

Her self-revelations were so predictable as to leave you speechless... Could it be that the reluctance of the rest of us to express ourselves, reveal ourselves—in the same way that Trudy was everywhere and always expressing and revealing herself—was simply a fear of this? A suppression of stereotypes? If we spoke our hearts at last, would the words come out like this—like slugs of type?

Howland is threading an impossible line here: she keeps showing us all the overlaps between the patients, but then keeps asserting, so incontrovertibly, through the simple act of letting us see them, their individuality; their absolute and human specificity.

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