For all the buildup to Mardi Gras that runs through The Moviegoer, it’s almost inevitable that Binx and Kate are nowhere near New Orleans when Fat Tuesday finally comes. I had a crazy writing teacher who liked to refer to this sort of thing as “the swerve.” It reminds me a little of one of my favorite Barry Hannah stories. It’s called “Idaho,” and it’s about a year he spends teaching at the University of Montana, riding his BMW motorcycle up into the Lolo Pass almost—but never quite—to Idaho.
Binx and Kate spend most of Mardi Gras on a Scenicruiser bus “plunging along the Illinois bank of the Mississippi through a region of sooty glens” on their way back to New Orleans from Chicago. It’s an oddly decorous choice for a novelist--to skip the wild color of the carnival and the crewes and the party and to give us instead the gray routine of the Scenicruiser rolling through Evansville. It’s almost like one of those scenes in old movies that primly cut away just as the lovers fall to the couch.
By the time Binx and Kate get back to New Orleans, all we can see is the exhausted mess, the street cleaners pushing “confetti and finery into soggy heaps in the gutters.”