Chapter 11 – The Business

Igby Goes Down


Seventeen-year-old Igby tries to stay sane despite a controlling monster of a mom, a dad in the funny farm, and a perfect brother at Columbia.

One paragraph:

His mom’s a controlling monster, his dad’s in the funny farm, his brother’s excelling at Columbia. Such is the privileged life of seventeen-year-old Igby. He gets credit, though, for trying to make the best of things. After failing at numerous prep schools and going AWOL from the military academy, Igby hides out in New York, in the loft of his godfather’s newest mistress (Igby’s mom being another of his mistresses). Igby gets a cool girlfriend but things don’t stay good for long: Mom’s got cancer, the new mistress ODs, his brother steals his girl, and Igby feels his father’s ghost beckoning him toward inevitable madness. Jeez, is there any escape?


As a prelude.. Seventeen-year-old Igby and his older brother watch their mother in bed, lamenting that she’s so hard to kill. The poison didn’t work. They put a plastic bag over her head.

Igby has led a privileged life, growing up in a wealthy Georgetown family. But privilege isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. His mother is a hyper-controlling monster, his father now lives in the funny farm. Igby flunks out of (another) prep school, then goes AWOL from military school. He’s better at smoking pot then studying. Why can’t he be perfect like his brother Ollie, now a freshman at Columbia?

Still, Igby gets credit for trying to make the best of things. He spends the summer in New York, working for DH—his amoral shark of a godfather and mom’s longtime lover. Come fall, Igby’s scheduled to start at a new school, but instead he hides out in New York, staying with Rachel, the pretty young thing DH keeps in a loft as his newest mistress. She’s a junkie, but it’s better than his school or family options.

Igby runs into Sookie on the street, a Bennington girl he met at a party. They hit it off and smoke pot in Central Park. She’s cool, and not too crazy. When Igby takes her to the loft, he catches DH with his pants down, literally. DH shrugs it off, but Rachel is pissed Igby may have messed up her free-rent situation, so pissed she roughs him up. Sookie soothes Igby, tending his wounds, kissing him, sleeping with him. Igby opens up to her relating how he saw his father have a nervous breakdown in the shower. Sookie listens, sympathizes. Maybe there’s hope, after all.

Ollie finds Igby, informing him measures are being taken to get him back in school. Ollie offers to give Sookie a lift to the upper east side, weasels his way into Sookie’s aparment, and then into her bed. Thus, begins a roll of bad luck for ol’ Igby. When DH dumps Rachel, she ODs. Igby gets her to the hospital, after which DH beats the crap out of him. Mom’s cancer is back. Igby discovers Sookie’s now sleeping with Ollie. Igby sees a vision of his dad, as if dad is calling him to his inherited destiny—madness

Igby sells drugs to make ends meet. Rachel’s alive, but, man, she’s looking bad. Igby doesn’t want to go that way. He makes his peace with Sookie. Then he makes his peace with mom. Dying of cancer, mom persuades Igby and Ollie to help her suicide, and there seems to be some forgiveness in the air. (Oh, yeah, Mom casually mentions that DH is really Igby’s father.) Ollie feeds mom poisoned ice cream. She won’t die. He puts a plastic bag over her head. That does the trick. Only now can Igby show his true feelings toward mom, as he beats her dead body, weeping.

Igby heads off to California. Seems he’s going to be okay.

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