Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*New York City

*New York City. During the 1950’s, Benny Profane goes wherever events lead him. He spends time in Manhattan hanging out with a group of nihilistic bohemians who call themselves the Whole Sick Crew. One member of this group attempts suicide, another has an abortion; none seems undamaged or fully capable. They drink heavily, ride New York’s subways endlessly, and hang out at the V-Note, a jazz club on Third Avenue, and the Rusty Spoon, a bar on the outskirts of Greenwich Village. At the urging of a woman who is something of a girlfriend, Profane occasionally makes forays into the job market, for example working briefly as a volunteer hunting albino alligators in the city sewers.

Profane’s instincts win against his attempts at making a life for himself, however. With seemingly nothing better to do, he tags along when Herbert Stencil, who is obsessed with finding V., goes to Malta to investigate a tenuous lead about her presence there.


*Malta. Island republic on the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily, that has historically occupied a strategic position on sea-lanes, and thus became the object of a long siege during World War II, in which it suffered constant attacks from Italian and German bombers. Amid this incredible ruin, V. appears as a woman dressed as a priest. Trapped under some rubble after a bombing, V. is disassembled by the children to whom she preaches her gospel of...

(The entire section is 593 words.)