Study Guide

The Interestings Chapter 19

By Meg Wolitzer

Chapter 19

  • Away from Spirit-in-the-Woods, Ethan is dealing with the Mastery Seminars he's running in California.
  • It's a bunch of rich people, but the proceeds go to the Anti-Child Labor Initiative.
  • Ethan is approached by a young kid who tells him he's an animator, and for some weird reason Ethan tells him to consider private equity as a field instead.
  • The boy and his mother leave, and Ethan wonders how he became the grumpy father in his own show.
  • Jonah is at the seminars as Ethan's guest (plus his boss is hoping to get invited to present their innovations eventually).
  • Ash is there, too, but she's working in her and Ethan's suite.
  • They talk briefly about Jules and Dennis going back to Spirit-in-the-Woods.
  • Ethan is called away to introduce a talk and makes sure Jonah has an all-access pass to the events.
  • Jonah says he's going to go to a talk by an astronaut, and Ethan leaves for his commitment.
  • On his way to the talk, Jonah is drawn into a different room by familiar music.
  • Uh oh… It's Barry Claimes and he's still singing songs he stole from Jonah.
  • Jonah has a visceral reaction to realizing this.
  • Barry is asked a question and makes up some ridiculous backstory for how he came up with his songs, and which point Jonah loses it and rushes out to sit quietly in a men's room until he pulls it together.
  • Of course, Barry ends up in the same men's room and Jonah follows him out.
  • Jonah actually stalks Barry back to his room and slips inside when he opens the door.
  • Barry thinks he's just a druggie trying to mug him, so Jonah starts shoving him and says, "it's me" (19.50), until Barry suddenly recognizes him and thinks everything's okay.
  • Quickly, though, Barry realizes, thanks to Jonah's knee in his gut, that this isn't a friendly visit.
  • He tries to tell Jonah he wanted to be a father figure and encourage his playing, which is the last straw for Jonah, who smashes Barry across the face with the banjo.
  • Jonah washes his hands and leaves Barry bloodied in his room, taking the banjo.
  • Ethan's assistant calls Jonah and has him take a car to a vineyard to meet Ethan.
  • At the vineyard, Jonah downs half a glass of wine without thinking, so Ethan asks him what's wrong.
  • Jonah doesn't want to share, but Ethan's had about enough of his mysteriousness; they talk about work and why Jonah doesn't like his job.
  • Jonah finally admits that he would have liked to be a musician and Ethan asks him what happened.
  • Jonah spits out the story of the drug abuse and Ethan sympathizes.
  • Ethan also tells Jonah that this doesn't explain why he doesn't play music at least as a hobby—Ethan also refuses to believe that Barry stole all of Jonah's music.
  • Back in his room, Jonah picks up the banjo he took from Barry and starts to play.