“The Spray,” by Jonathan Lethem explores the conceit of a spray that makes things you’ve lost visible. As the narrator and his wife, Addie, play with the spray, they tease each other. Then finally they spray each other–and reveal what probably should have stayed lost.
I like this story for its playfulness, but the ending leaves the characters in an uneasy limbo. I wanted there to be more to it. After a bit of hunting around, I think the missing reference here is Philip K. Dick. Since I vaguely knew about Lethem’s connection with Dick, I feel like I should have gotten the joke: the spray is Ubik. After all, Lethem has said it reverses entropy. In other words, it brings back the lost order of the past.
I was willing to watch The Searchers after reading Girl In Landscape, but I’m pretty sure I’m never going to read Ubik. I’ve only read a few of Lethem’s stories and while they’re all good writing, I’m beginning to think I’m not going to acquire enough of an intersection of cultural interests to really enjoy many of them.