Nathan Zuckerman would not be consoled. Yossarian and Bech tried. The Glass family put on an infuriatingly precocious puppet show. (Mickey Sabbath, it happens, directed.) A worried, avuncular Augie March ran down the hall and grabbed Huck Finn. But Finn’s charm failed, too, surprising everyone but Bigger Thomas. Zuckerman raved on. Gimpel the Fool took a shot. Pip squeaked. Kurtz cautioned. A rumor circulated that Bartleby might help, but he preferred–well, you know. The whole Home For Abandoned Characters quaked at Zuckerman’s rage, his volcanic grief. Fraternally, just to piss him off, Portnoy had sent Zuckerman the tweet. The post-post-post-post-modern tweet about Philip Roth watching Sharknado on TV, with Mia Farrow no less. “Mia Farrow is the new Yoko!” Zuckerman screamed, fist in the air.
“He said he was retiring,” Zuckerman said of his creator. The forsaken character glared at his housemates–bereft, morose, accusing. “Your goddamn authors are dead,” he bellowed. “But I had a chance. Now his brain is mush. Never first-rate obviously. Where’s the Nobel, he wants to know? Give it to the sharks, Phil.” Across the room Hannibal Lecter, playing cards with Bertie Wooster, made that scary phssting sound with his tongue. Zuckerman was unfazed. “When do Alice Munro’s characters get here?” he shouted to no one in particular. “Who has Nathan Englander’s email?” Alice Toklas, eating a banana, sighed, sighed, sighed.