Although I firmly believe that Jorge Luis Borges was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, he was perhaps only an indifferent professoAlthough I firmly believe that Jorge Luis Borges was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, he was perhaps only an indifferent professor. His An Introduction to American Literature is essentially an outline of writers which the professor deemed important enough to highlight.
In the process, he downgrades William Faulkner for being too complicated and spends more space on such writers as Edna Ferber, Gertrude Stein, Louis Bromfield, S.S. Van Dine, and Robert Heinlein.
I get the feeling that Borges did not read most of the authors he describes, as his blindness set in during the 1950s. ...more
I chose to read this play because I liked the title. The play itself was not a success on Broadway, though I think it could have been. Tennessee WilliI chose to read this play because I liked the title. The play itself was not a success on Broadway, though I think it could have been. Tennessee Williams writes of a rich old lady named Sissy Goforth, having survived six marriages, and dictating her memoirs as her health declines. She is interrupted in this by a trespasser, a youngish (but not actually young) poet named Chris Flanders. Sissy treats him abominably -- the way she treats everyone.
Chris the Poet seems to be a tad mercurial. He creates mobiles. His one book of poetry was written ten years ago, And he likes to be a companion to dying old women, which earns him the nickname "The Angel of Death." In fact, he is no angel of any sort; and his dealings with Miss Goforth are ambiguous.
Even when he is not at the top of his form, Tennessee Williams is worth reading -- and worth seeing. ...more
Tennessee Williams is one American author whose work I feel we do not sufficiently appreciate. Perhaps that is because the theater in general is fadinTennessee Williams is one American author whose work I feel we do not sufficiently appreciate. Perhaps that is because the theater in general is fading away -- an art form that, like many others, has become just ... too ... expensive. Also, even in our times, there is still lurks a stigma attached to being gay.
Suddenly Last Summer is a blinding metaphor about the absent main character -- Sebastian Venable -- who in some Latin American beach city crossed an invisible line and paid for it with his life -- by being partially devoured by a pack of street children who chase him through the streets.
The story is told by his "girlfriend," Catherine Holly, who has been committed to an insane asylum. Sebastian's mother, Violet, wants to know what happened to Sebastian, but refuses to accept what Catherine -- having been injected with some truth serum -- tells her. In the end, the attending physician, Doctor Cukrowicz, says it is just possible that the story was true....more
Normally, I don't like biographies that much because most people do not have such exciting lives throughout. General Nathan Bedford Forrest was an excNormally, I don't like biographies that much because most people do not have such exciting lives throughout. General Nathan Bedford Forrest was an exception. He started out as a slave trader, enlisted as a private after Fort Sumter, but quickly rose to the rank of general commanding Confederate cavalry in Tennessee and Mississippi. He typically won battles in which his side was grossly outnumbered, never neglecting to "put the skeer" on his enemy.
With no West Point or other significant schooling, Forrest was an original. When attacked from two sides, he would think nothing of dividing his forces and have each attack in opposite directions. His cavalry operated more as dragoons, who used horses for mobility but fought as infantry. At Brice's Crossroads, he did the unthinkable: He had an artillery charge that completely flummoxed the Union forces. (Even now, I cannot imagine what THAT looked like.)
Unfortunately, Forrest was associated for the rest of his life with the massacre at Fort Pillow. He grew disgusted when his negotiations for a truce were running into what he considered bad faith. At this point, he ordered his men to "kill every God damned one of them." Most of the Union forces were black soldiers in uniform, and they were more likely to be killed than the whites.
After Appomattox, Forest became the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, though he repudiated the organization and tried -- unsuccessfully -- to build a railroad between Memphis and Selma. But the Fort Pillow taint plus local envy from his fellow Memphis citizens led to the project being abandoned.
In the end, Forrest wasted away and died of advanced diabetes twelve years after the war.
Jack Hurst has done a creditable job in his Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography. There was no question but that Forrest was a bad ass. But, according to Civil War historian Shelby Foote, he is one of the two greatest geniuses the war produced, the other being Abraham Lincoln....more
The Battle of the Wilderness was at one and the same time one of the most confused encounters of the Civil War and one of the grimmest. On one hand, mThe Battle of the Wilderness was at one and the same time one of the most confused encounters of the Civil War and one of the grimmest. On one hand, most of the battle took place in a second-growth scrub forest interspersed with small hillocks and swamps. There were two roads that cut horizontally across the field: The Orange Turnpike and the Orange Plank Road. Because of the terrain between the two roads, it was difficult to coordinate attacks without straying in the forest. Toward the end of the battle, so many trees were cut down by bullets that few plants were above the height of a man. And there weren't enough open spaces to make artillery effective.
In such a situation, the advantage went to the defender. It is likely that the Confederates took fewer casualties, especially when they were firing from entrenched positions; and the Union launched more attacks.
This was Grant's first battle with the Army of the Potomac, and few of his corps and division commanders came out with their reputations undamaged. Meade was far too concerned with defending his supply wagons to make effective use of his cavalry; and Burnside, who refused to take orders from Meade because he outranked him, was excessively dilatory in reaching his positions. For the last time, Grant let Meade take command. From now until Appommatox, Grant planned all the battles.
Although the Confederates regard the Wilderness as a victory, Grant did one thing that marked him as different from all the previous Army of the Potomac commanders: Instead of retreating to lick his wounds, he moved south toward Spotsylvania Court House, where the terrain for battle was better and ten miles closer to Richmond. Lee was forced to follow Grant's lead. From here on, it would be a far different war.
Virtually on Southern men who were between the ages of 17 and 64 were already in the Army. The north, on the other hand, had some 2.5 million men of military age who could be conscripted (not without a fight, however). Grant had bodies to burn. Whenever Lee lost a man, he was irreplaceable. Grant had bodies to burn and no compunction about burning them when needed for ultimate victory.
In Grant, Lincoln finally found a general who could win....more
Ever since I first came across the works of Bruce Catton in my teens, I have been an aficionado of the American Civil War. So much concentrated slaughEver since I first came across the works of Bruce Catton in my teens, I have been an aficionado of the American Civil War. So much concentrated slaughter among peoples who resembled one another so much! Also, so many lessons to be learned about the arts of leadership, and what happens when they are lacking -- as in all but the last general in charge of the Army of the Potomac!
As for method, it may explain much for me to state that my favorite historian is Tacitus, who dealt mainly with high-placed scoundrels, but that the finest compliment I ever heard paid a historian was rendered by Thomas Hobbes in the forward to his translation of The Peloponnesian War, in which he referred to Thucydides as "one who, though he never digress to read a Lecture, Moral or Political, upon his own Text, nor enter into men's hearts, further than the Actions themselves evidently guide him...filleth his Narrations with that choice of matter, and ordereth them with that Judgement, and with such perspicuity and efficacy expresseth himself that (as Plutarch saith) he maketh his Auditor a Spectator. For he setteth his Reader in the Assemblies of the People, and in their Senates, at their debating; in the Streets, at their Seditions; and in the Field, at their Battels." There indeed is something worth aiming at, however far short of attainment we fall.
I don't think Foote falls far short at all. In Periclean Athens, there was not much first-hand information upon which the historian could rely, whereas the Civil War is one of the most written-about episodes in all of world history. In addition to making his information vivid, Foote has to wade through terabytes of minutiae to find interesting episodes. One example: Nathan Bedford Forrest, encountering one of his men in headlong retreat, stopping him in his tracks, pulling down his trousers, and administering a savage spanking with a brush to motivate him to reconsider, which he did.
The period covered by the volume is calendar year 1863, in which two of the most decisive Union victories took place: Gettysburg and Vicksburg -- right around the 4th of July. The other major battle discussed was Chickamauga, a Southern victory which ruined the careers of both generals, Rosecrans and Bragg, and which could have gone either way if a third of the Union line had not panicked and run. There is also a brief look-ahead to the spring of 1864, when U.S. Grant was named a Lieutenant General and appointed to the Army of the Potomac.
This 966-page book seems sorter than its weight would imply. That is due to Foote. In fact, this volume is so good that two extracts have been separately published as books: The Stars in Their Courses about Gettysburg and The Beleaguered City about Vicksburg, both of which are excellent reads in their own right.
For years, I thought was familiar with Night of the Iguana, but it seems I was remembering only bits and pieces of the John Huston film, which is veryFor years, I thought was familiar with Night of the Iguana, but it seems I was remembering only bits and pieces of the John Huston film, which is very different. It was even more reinforced in my mind because I had visited Mismaloya Beach, the area south of Puerto Vallarta where the film was shot. In the end, I wound up liking the original play better, because of the touching relationship between the defrocked minister, Larry Shannon, and Hannah Jelkes. I particularly loved Shannon's description of God as a senile delinquent:
Yeah, this angry, petulant old man. I mean he's represented like a bad-tempered childish old, old, sick, peevish man -- I mean like the sort of old man in a nursing home that's putting together a jigsaw puzzle and can't put it together and gets furious at it and kicks over the table. Yes, I tell you they do that, all our theologies do it -- accuse God of being a cruel senile delinquent, blaming the world and brutally punishing all he created for his own faults in construction....
In that remote Mexican hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Shannon goes mad, by bits and pieces, while Hannah tries to keep him together. All the time this is happening, Maxine, the owner of the hotel, wants Shannon for herself. Having known him from other visits during which he had breakdowns, she is willing to take the chance and wants a someone to replace her deceased husband Fred.
This is not Williams's best play by any means, but it is interesting enough that I would love to see a live performance of it. ...more
It's been a while since I've read any of Tennessee Williams's plays. As I finished the last act, I realized that his was not a gossamer reputation: ThIt's been a while since I've read any of Tennessee Williams's plays. As I finished the last act, I realized that his was not a gossamer reputation: There is something real about that sad, strange outsider who recognizes the same qualities in his readers. It has been quoted many times before, but Chance Wayne's closing lines as he faces the punishment for his many offenses encapsulates perfectly what Williams is all about:
I don't ask for your pity, but just for your understanding—not even that—no. Just for your recognition of me in you, and the enemy, time, in us all.
It was a brilliant touch to have the transgressive young stud Chance traveling with a washed up actress named Alexandra del Lago. In the play, both characters arrive at differently forking life paths, one positive, the other not.
This meditation on the life of Jefferson Davis is probably the best short work about the American Civil War. Both Davis and author Robert Penn WarrenThis meditation on the life of Jefferson Davis is probably the best short work about the American Civil War. Both Davis and author Robert Penn Warren were born in Todd County, Kentucky, where today there is a white obelisk commemorating the life of the first and only president of the Confederate States of America. (And, only about a hundred miles away, in a poor white's cabin, was born Abraham Lincoln.) As Warren wrote, "More than a contrast between Lincoln and Davis is involved. The contrast lay in the two societies -- one embracing antique values, the other in the process of developing new ones."
Why did the South lose the Civil War? Warren's explanation puts it as follows:
Once face to face with Lee, unconquerable at the chessboard of war, he fought a war of swap-out, knowing that only the balance sheet of blood could ensure victory. He [Grant] had an incalculable amount of blood to swap. And, to make certain that the swap system worked to the utmost, he refused after a battle any truce for the burial of the dead and the succor of the wounded. By the same token, he refused exchanges of prisoners, his theory was that a man could as well serve the country starving the Andersonville [the Confederate prison] as standing in the battle line. Unremitting pressure, at any cost, was the policy of a man who loathed the sight of blood but had come face to face with reality. He was purely logical, and after the war he stated the theory he had developed: "The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving."
At battles such as Cold Harbor, not a single wounded Confederate soldier survived.
So much of what has been written about the Civil War and its political and military leaders has been from the Yankee point of view. It is refreshing to read a thoughtful southerner such as Robert Penn Warren or Shelby Foote cover the same ground.
Jefferson Davis was a tragic figure who was foredoomed to lose the war and his reputation. After the war, what he wanted more than anything else was his day in court, to defend his decisions from start to finish. But he never received that opportunity.
The last seven days were spent in a haze while, on one hand, I was sitting in Los Angeles; on the other, I was transported to a brand new world createThe last seven days were spent in a haze while, on one hand, I was sitting in Los Angeles; on the other, I was transported to a brand new world created out of whole cloth by a writer who receives no end of lip service, but who is no read nowhere near as much as he deserves to be. I think back to how William Faulkner's Flags in the Dust was viewed by a score of publishers as too diffuse to be interesting to the American reading public. One publisher, Harrison Smith of Harcourt, Brace, liked it. In order to get the book published, for a fee of fifty dollars, he hacked it to pieces, lopping off a fourth of the story and renaming the book Sartoris, after the family who were the main focus of the novel.
Years ago, I tried reading Sartoris, but lost interest, abandoning the book half way through. This time, I read the original book written by Faulkner -- and saved by him for many years in hopes of issuing it as he planned it. It finally was released in 1973, years after its author was dead and buried.
To be brief, I loved Flags in the Dust. So early in his career, around the age of thirty, the whole of his mythical Yoknapatawpha County sprang into existence, with many of its characters who were to be developed in future novels and stories. To be sure, there are some differences: The place is referred to as Yocana County here. The character of V. K. Ratliff, so familiar from The Hamlet, was called Surratt here. But the Snopes clan is present, as are the Sartorises and Benbows and the McCallums.
Central to the story are the promethean Sartorises and the widowed sister of old Bayard, Aunt Jenny Du Pre, who is the main spokesperson for the family as she fights her brother Bayard II and her nephew Bayard III as they find their own uneasy paths to the grave. When old Bayard opens a chest in the attic full of family souvenirs, Faulkner launches waxes lyrical:
Thus each opening [of the chest] was in a way ceremonial, commemorating the violent finis to some phase of his family's history, and while he struggled with the stiff lock, it seemed to him that a legion of ghosts breathed quietly at his shoulder, and he pictured a double line of them with their arrogant identical faces waiting just beyond a portal and stretching away toward the invisible dais where Something sat waiting the latest arrival among them; thought of them chafing a little and a little bewildered, thought and desire being denied them, in a place where, immortal, there were no opportunities for vainglorious swashbuckling. Denied that Sartoris heaven in which they could spend eternity dying deaths of needless and magnificent violence while spectators doomed to immortality looked eternally on. The Valhalla which John Sartoris [died 1872, as described in Unvanquished], turning the wine glass in his big, well-shaped hand that night at the supper table, has seen in its chaste and fragile bubble.
The story is set in the years immediately following World War One, which were years of change in the Mississippi towns and countryside -- a change symbolized by Bayard III's convertible racing along the dirt roads scaring the livestock and horse-drawn carriages. Traditional modes of life are slowly vanishing, particularly in the adulterous relationship that develops between Horace Benbow and Mrs. Belle Mitchell, while Horace's sister Narcissa, like a throwback to the relative calm of an earlier time, finds herself falling in love for the self-destructive young Bayard. At one point, Faulkner gives us a frightening glance into the young man's mind:
Nothing to be seen, and the long long span of a man's natural life. Three score and ten years, to drag a stubborn body about the world and cozen its insistent demands. Three score and ten, the Bible said. Seventy years. And he was only twenty-six. Not much more than a third through it. Hell.
Probably part of what early publishers disliked about the novel was its broad-spectrum approach encompassing the Black population, rural good-old-boys like the McCallums, and the creepiness of Byron Snopes's pursuit of Narcissa Benbow. One chapter I particularly liked was young Bayard's stay at his old childhood friends, the McCallums, to go hunting possum. He is too ashamed to tell them that his father is dead, partly due to his reckless driving. He accepts a jug of moonshine to give to him without divulging the truth.
In all, this is a great novel - one that is infrequently read, but central to its author's oeuvre.
As a non-Southern children of Eastern European immigrants, I have always wondered about the peculiar passion that so many people in the former ConfedeAs a non-Southern children of Eastern European immigrants, I have always wondered about the peculiar passion that so many people in the former Confederate States of America feel about the Civil War. Except, they never call it that: It's either the War Between the States (never was no Federal gummint involved, nohow) or the War of the Southern Confederacy (who were they fighting, phantoms?). Whatever that passion it, is certainly has crossed over into our politics, where so many intransigent lines in the sand are drawn.
I sense that many Anglo-Saxon whites in the South feel disinherited and scorned. Their reaction is to strike out against the scoffers (or imagined scoffers), even if it means imposing their own religious and social agenda on the nation as a whole. I rather suspect that many people in the Northeast, the Midwest, and West look upon these doings with a sort of scorn tinged with fear. What if these redneck peckerwoods have their way and assume control of our government?
Tony Horwitz took two years out of his life to tour the old Confederacy and ask questions about the rebel battle flag; the rebel triumvirate of Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Nathan Bedford Forrest; how blacks viewed the war; and other related subjects. He talked to educators, museum curators, heads of various patriotic organizations extolling the antebellum South, and even Civil War reenactors. In fact, the book's paperback cover sports an authentic-looking photo of one of the most "hardcore" re-enactors, one Robert Lee Hodge, with whom Horwitz spent many weeks. He is one of the most memorable characters in Confederates in the Attic.
In the end, much of the secessionist fervor in the South has partaken of a typically American culture of permanent outrage. Flying the rebel battle flag from your wheels and pointing it out menacingly to Afro-Americans is a cheap way to pretend one is worth more than one is entitled to. All the more if you're stuck in a dead-end job and feel that others are being promoted over you while you are passed over and regarded as a troublemaker. In the end, Horwitz concludes by quoting Robert Penn Warren:
A high proportion of our population was not even in this country when the War was being fought. Not that this disqualifies the grandchildren from experiencing to the full the imaginative appeal of the Civil War. To experience this appeal may be, in fact, the very ritual of being American.
I like that. Let's face it: Being American is not a simple thing. Here I live in Los Angeles, a city with a majority Hispanic population, reveling in my Hungarian background and attending all the local Magyar events and eating the sacramental Eastern European food. If I lived in Mississippi, a descendant of Reb soldiers, and felt irked at being thought of as an ignorant hayseed, it would be an altogether different existence. Books like Horwitz's help in reconciling the many diverse threads that make up the Ame5rican people....more
It is amazing to me that this book was written more than half a century ago, when its author Shelby Foote was still a young man. Most histories of theIt is amazing to me that this book was written more than half a century ago, when its author Shelby Foote was still a young man. Most histories of the Civil War that I know pretty much concentrate on the four-year duel between the Army of the Potomac under McClellan (et al. ad infinitum) and the Army of Northern Virginia under Lee. Admittedly, the Old Dominion State had more than its share of bloody battles; but it wasn't the whole shooting match, so to speak. Even while Lee and his opponent du jour tangled there in an endless pas de deux, it was in the West that the Confederacy was cut to pieces by Union generals who were farther removed from the watchful eye of Washington.
Looking back, there is no way that the South could have won -- unless it somehow won the support of England, France, and other European trading partners. That it held on for as long as it did, with a string of incredible victories against seemingly insuperable odds, is a tribute to the military spirit of the men in butternut and their, for the most part, capable generals.
Reading about the war from a Southern perspective is particularly interesting: We know about the dilatory fighting of the Army of the Potomac, but Foote also appraises us of the weaknesses of generals like Stonewall Jackson, P T Beauregard and Braxton Bragg.
The Civil War: A Narrative Fort Sumter to Perryville covers the first two years of the war so well that I know I will have to find time somehow to tackle the other two volumes, totalling over 1,600 pages. ...more
All the King's Men walks a knife-edge between greatness and banality. It is evident to me that its author, Robert Penn Warren, was capable of greatnesAll the King's Men walks a knife-edge between greatness and banality. It is evident to me that its author, Robert Penn Warren, was capable of greatness -- but something, in the end, something I cannot quite identify, vitiated it. I started out by seeing the movie years ago. The movie was one thing: The novel is quite another.
The first few chapters were, I thought, brilliant -- because they were focused on the rise of Willie Stark and the people around him. Then, by stages, we became more involved in the life of the narrator, one Jack Burden. At one point, he says, "I'm the joker in the deck. My name is Jack and I'm the wild jack and I'm not one-eyed." In sum, Jack Burden is the problem. Here is a man who has no real relationship with anyone -- not to Stark; not to his mother; not to the man he believes is his father; not to Anne Stanton, the love of his life; and not to Anne's brother Adam, his childhood best friend. In the book, he takes his orders from Stark and causes nothing but mayhem to the people in his life.
It is hard to follow a novel where the focus is on someone who repeatedly screws up real bad, mostly from a lack of self-awareness and a kind of sardonic distance he places between himself and the rest of the world.
By the very end of All the King's Men, Jack has learned his lesson:
I tried to tell her [Anne] how if you could not accept the past and its burden [a pun!] there was no future, for without one there cannot be the other, and how if you could accept the past you might hope for the future, for only out of the past can you make the future.
I wonder what William Faulkner would have made of this same material, has he been interested enough to take it on. I should think that he would have exposed Jack's dearth of soul early on and produced a series of images of a man in hell and not knowing it until all the cards were played, with his card being the joker.
In the end, the work is as it is. And as it is, it is a powerful if flawed work. It was quite evident that Warren was a poet; and I am now interested in reading some of his poems. ...more
Immediately after the novel's dedication is this quote from Soren Kierkegaard, which pretty much says it all: "...the specific character of despair isImmediately after the novel's dedication is this quote from Soren Kierkegaard, which pretty much says it all: "...the specific character of despair is precisely this: it is unaware of being despair." In The Moviegoer, we have a hero about to reach the age of thirty, one Binx Bolling, who is, to say the least, wishy-washy. He serially falls in love with his secretaries, is bullied by his aunt and constantly dragooned by her into family affairs, and liking but being more than a little apprehensive about his cousin Kate, whose fragility outdoes even Tennessee Williams's most neurotic female characters.
Yet Walker Percy has created an anti-heroic masterpiece. Binx rules his life on some gonzo principles that just take him around in circles: there is "the search," there is "rotation" and "repetition," and any number of mantras that he uses to justify his existence. For instance, on a train ride to Chicago with Kate, he ponders:
Money is a good counterpoise to beauty. Beauty, the quest of beauty alone, is a whoredom. Ten years ago I pursued beauty and gave no thought to money. I listened to the lovely tunes of Mahler and felt a sickness in my very soul. Now I pursue money and on the whole feel better.
Except he doesn't really "pursue" money as such: He is a lucky stockbroker, and money more or less falls into his lap. Perhaps what he really needs is "sickness in my very soul."
Eventually, at the tail end of the book, his aunt manages to read the riot act to him; and he actually does take action. But even then, the result is, like so many things in our lives, an uneasy truce.
The Moviegoer is a most unheroic novel with an unheroic narrator. But he is truthful, he is likeable, he is very much like you and me, hypocrite lecteur.
For a first novel by its author, The Moviegoer is an unexpected masterpiece -- one whose reputation has only grown over the years. I think I shall like to read some more of Percy's works.
I first read The Unvanquished half a century ago, because I had been told that it was the best Faulkner novel to start with. (Actually, it's not a novI first read The Unvanquished half a century ago, because I had been told that it was the best Faulkner novel to start with. (Actually, it's not a novel at all, but a linked series of short stories with the same characters.) Seeing the Civil War through the eyes of Bayard Sartoris, son of a Southern war hero, and Ringo (short for Marengo), a former family slave who is Bayard's age, was nothing short of brilliant. I loved the book even more the second time around, and I definitely understood it more.
In the six stories (and the seventh, "An Odor of Verbena," which serves as a coda), Faulkner memorializes the culture of the Deep South through the horrors of the war and the Reconstruction that followed. That culture included some amazing characters, such as Uncle Buck McCaslin:
There was more to Uncle Buck and [his brother] Buddy than just that. Father said they were ahead of their time; he said they not only possessed, but put into practice, ideas about social relationship that maybe fifty years after they were both dead people would have a name for. These ideas were about land. They believed that land did not belong to people but that people belonged to land and that the earth would permit them to live on and out of it and use it only so long as they behaved and that if they did not behave right, it would shake them off just like a dog getting rid of fleas. [Italics mine]
This would be a major theme in Faulkner's stories and novels in the years to come. (I think particularly of the Snopes family that was to move in on Yoknapatawpha County.) In this book, the example of Grumby's Independents exemplified the McCaslin code. Grumby is a guerrilla who is more into theft, rapine, and murder than he is for the Confederate cause. In the interstices between the withdrawal of the Southern forces and the return of the Yankees after Appomattox, he fattens like a tick until Bayard and Ringo catch up with him.
What draws the boys' revenge is the murder of Bayard's grandmother, Miss Rosa Millard, who is one of Faulkner's most memorable characters. After the Sartoris house has been burned down by the Yankees, she goes after the Yanks for stealing her mules. As a result of a misunderstanding, the Union soldiers give her over a hundred mules. She then sets herself up in business re-selling these mules to the North, and then -- using a clever forgery -- getting the mules back, eliminating the U.S. brand on their haunches, and selling them back yet again. In the process, she partners with the wildly unreliable Ab Snopes; and this is what draws Grumby to her.
After Bayard's father has been gunned down by a former business partner, the father's friends solemnly gather around Bayard
with the unctuous formality which the Southern man shows in the presence of death -- that Roman holiday engendered by mist-born Protestantism grafted onto this land of violent sun, of violent alteration from snow to heat-stroke which has produced a race impervious to both.
How that man can write! I am no Southerner myself, though my heart skips a beat when I see in this and his other books a clarity and a love for the land of his birth....more