Tuesday, September 12, 2017


It's been a century and part of another now since Kate Chopin shocked the literary world with a thrilling time-lapse look at the blooming amid a perfectly proper pansy bed of a wondrously rebellious passion flower. (I’m still not completely satisfied with that sentence, and expect to revisit it—perhaps incessantly—for tweaks and twiddles long after I’ve hit the publish button. After all, the literary world is still tweaking and twiddling its opinion of Chopin’s The Awakening, and likely will continue to do so until the looming Apocalypse suspends all tweaking and twiddling, at least in this little corner of the Cosmos.)

Such outraged put-downs as “repellent” and “sad and mad and bad” and “poison” greeted The Awakening at its dawn in 1899, which seems odd now in that twenty years earlier Henrik Ibsen’s The Doll House, with an almost identical theme, met with a similarly hostile critical reception. More recent discussions of The Awakening suggest that Chopin’s neck was on the block because of its setting in Louisiana rather than in some “foreign” country.
The meanest put-down of The Awakening I have found (with help from Wikipedia) was Public Opinion’s "We are well-satisfied when Mrs. Pontellier deliberately swims out to her death in the waters of the gulf." {{Gasp}}

Oops, have I given too much away? Forgive me. The plot is...well, there really isn’t much of one: Edna Pontellier, 28, secretly thumbs her nose at her wooden Creole businessman hubby and his New Orleans society (she’s from Kentucky), allowing herself by increments to fall in love with the charming 26-year-old son of a friend. The increments take the length of a novella to unfold because that’s how long it takes Edna to recognize what is happening to her, that she’s becoming sensually alive and is craving—desperately--to break free of the web of cultural and marital obligations she’d entered with those horrific (for men, ordinarily) words “I do.”
That she and the wooden Creole businessman have two young’uns bothers her a little in this psychological metamorphosis we witness her undergoing, but not enough to keep her from swimming into the Gulf of Mexico, presumably to her death—either unwittingly or deliberately, of which we are not privy.
The two male leads in this story are Robert, whom Edna comes to realize she loves, and Alcee Arobin, the local lothario who seduces her after Robert flees, claiming it’s because he loves her, hence, we’re to assume, protecting her from the stigma a consummation of their love would bring upon her.

While the story framework is simple, the blossoming of Edna’s sensuality, given to us petal by glorious petal, kept this old goat reading as raptly as he presumes he might a James Patterson thriller, were he (the old goat) so starved for something to read. And Kate Chopin could write, bringing with her scandalous novel an enviable reputation for her short fiction. You know I’m going to give you some examples—no point in me trying to do justice with paraphrases to her exceptional skill.
Here’s Edna: “Mrs. Pontellier's eyes were quick and bright; they were a yellowish brown, about the color of her hair. She had a way of turning them swiftly upon an object and holding them there as if lost in some inward maze of contemplation or thought.
“Her eyebrows were a shade darker than her hair. They were thick and almost horizontal, emphasizing the depth of her eyes. She was rather handsome than beautiful. Her face was captivating by reason of a certain frankness of expression and a contradictory subtle play of features. Her manner was engaging.”

I like handsome, engaging women. Here’s a glimpse of her sorrow after a mild set-to with the wooden businessman she’d married for reasons practical rather than love: “She could not have told why she was crying. Such experiences as the foregoing were not uncommon in her married life. They seemed never before to have weighed much against the abundance of her husband's kindness and a uniform devotion which had come to be tacit and self-understood.”
Chopin explains that in the Creole culture husbands are never jealous, that the “gangrene passion is one which has become dwarfed by disuse.”
Kate Chopin
Perhaps it’s that understanding, or taking it for granted, that enables Edna to inch almost unwittingly toward what she feels is freedom-and-damn-the-consequences. Here’s her first clue to us that she’s catching on to something happening between her and Robert:Edna Pontellier could not have told why, wishing to go to the beach with Robert, she should in the first place have declined, and in the second place have followed in obedience to one of the two contradictory impulses which impelled her.
“A certain light was beginning to dawn dimly within her,—the light which, showing the way, forbids it.”
We may assume correctly The Awakening enjoyed a spirited revival, which came long after Chopin’s death, with the advent of modern feminism, in the 1960s. This attitude has matured some since then, at least from the perspective of Edna’s choices in asserting her independence

Kate Chopin
In a group discussion hosted by NPR’s Diane Rehm five years ago, author and Time columnist Judith Warner said she “felt very bad” about not sympathizing with Edna Pontellier. “I felt like a bad feminist and a bad person...” she said. “But I found her really narcissistic and childish… She seemed to me to just have so much frustrated narcissism and be so kind of limited in her ability to think. She can feel to a great extent, but she doesn't seem to be all that capable of rational thought. And even in that depiction, I wondered, it's almost as though Kate Chopin is reprising all of the stereotypes, the dominant stereotypes about the nature of women that were dominant in her time and, of course, it lasted for a very long time afterward as well.”
Rehm cited a Facebook posting on the subject from someone called Susan: "I first read it right after I finished college when I was single. I was inspired by the way Edna took control of her life the only way she could. I read it again after I was married with children and I was appalled at Edna's selfishness. I wondered if Edna had somehow changed while the book was on the shelf. It's amazing how differently I saw her character as my life circumstances changed. It's still one of my favorite novels."
My favorite scene is a brief conversation between Edna and my favorite supporting character, a wise old physician referred to only as “Doctor Mandelet.” The doctor has just asked Edna if she intends to accompany her husband on a planned trip abroad.
"’Perhaps—no, I am not going,’ she answers. ‘I'm not going to be forced into doing things. I don't want to go abroad. I want to be let alone. Nobody has any right—except children, perhaps—and even then, it seems to me—or it did seem—‘ She felt that her speech was voicing the incoherency of her thoughts, and stopped abruptly.
"’The trouble is,’ sighed the Doctor, grasping her meaning intuitively, ‘that youth is given up to illusions. It seems to be a provision of Nature; a decoy to secure mothers for the race. And Nature takes no account of moral consequences, of arbitrary conditions which we create, and which we feel obliged to maintain at any cost.’
"’Yes,’ she said. ‘The years that are gone seem like dreams—if one might go on sleeping and dreaming—but to wake up and find—oh! well! perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one's life.’"

[For more Friday's Forgotten Books check the links on Patti Abbott's unforgettable blog]

Thursday, September 7, 2017


After rereading five of his six novels, I wondered after the fifth if maybe I was burning out on Walker Percy's whiny angsty men. But upon reflection I believe I'm “onto something,” as Percy liked to put it about chasing life’s dark mysteries. What I’m onto is a suspicion his male protagonists are simply rotten spoiled. They’re all good looking, athletic, articulate, accomplished, and moneyed—either by birth or marriage—but, alas, they’re not happy. Oh me oh my.

I reread the novels willy nilly, not in the order they were written, as I’d done the first time around. Not sure now it would have made much different. The existentially miserable men, it’s become plain as what I think is dog doo-doo on the toe of my shoe, are essentially the same miserable man. In fact two men ostensibly appear by name more than once, one each in two of four of the novels. But this is a small point, as either of these two men are easily interchangeable with the protagonists of the other two novels. Only the names and ages are different.
What I like best about The Last Gentleman, which was Percy’s second, and which I reread second to last, is a secondary character so refreshingly different from the predictable Percy protagonist I wish Percy’d written a novel featuring him instead of the ubiquitous whiner. Were this character in the movie that surely would have been made of such a novel, he’d be played by Hugh Laurie reprising his irascible genius diagnostician of the too-short-running TV series called simply House. Or rather his TV role would have been a reprise of the Dr. Sutter Vaught character, first introduced in The Last Gentleman, since that novel predated the TV series by several decades. What I’m trying to say is Sutter Vaught is Gregory House, the physician you would want at the bedside of you or your loved one if life were at stake. No matter how rude, seemingly indifferent, or self-destructive he (the doctor) might be.
Dr. Sutter Vaught scoffs at Will Barrett’s dismay over not finding happiness. Barrett is torn between what Vaught calls “transcendence” (idealism) and its opposite “immanence” (realism). Here’s how Percy describes Barrett’s problem: “It had come over him again, the old itch for omniscience. One day it was longing for carnal knowledge, the next for perfect angelic knowledge.” You want to slap the kid and tell him to get laid, which he evidently doesn’t in this novel. We have to wait for the sequel, The Second Coming, for that, but then, of course, he’s still having trouble finding happiness. Unfortunately no one can slap him down to Earth because, psychologically fragile though he is, he was a middleweight boxing sensation before dropping out of Princeton to work as a janitor in New York City and spy on Kitty, the young woman he’ll eventually have carnal longings for, the young woman who is Dr. Sutter Vaught’s sister. [SPOILER ALERT] Barrett’s still having carnal longings for Kitty—at least her ass--in the sequel, although now he’s “nearing middle age.” a widower with an unpleasant screwball daughter, and falls “in love” with Kitty’s daughter, who just might be...nah, no carnal, er, solid evidence.
I liked Will Barrett better in the sequel, found him easier to identify with. Partly because the sexual tension is less angsty. Still troubled, of course, he’s learned to take charge of himself. He has to. There’s no Sutter Vaught to look to for advice. Sutter Vaught, who cured patients of depression by admitting them for a brief stay in the hospital’s terminal ward.
Dr. House trying either to save a patient's life or seduce her
Barrett is too contrived a character in The Last Gentleman to be sympathetic. Reminded me of the sort of modern fictional action types who can do whatever they need to do to win—shoot like Annie Oakley, fly an airplane, a chopper, race a speedboat, a motorcycle, etc. etc. Barrett’s self-proclaimed “nervous condition,” which involves episodes of amnesia and deja vu, and a leg with a mind of its own, does not impair his effectiveness in a barroom brawl, which he manages with aplomb because, we learn at the opportune moment, he’d been quarterback of his high school football team.
Yet he’s unhappy. Oh, poor baby.
Yet, I give Percy a pass on his characterizations because his writing is sublime, is so artful you can never be sure if he’s pulling your leg or sending you up or screwing up an eye to get your reaction. He’s a sly, Southern gentleman, and his take on sly, shrewd Southernness is so authentic this old Yankee-cum-Virginian knows to sit back and enjoy the show and keep his notions to himself. And Percy’s getting at more here than merely why philosophizing, privileged males are so conflicted. He’s taking on all of modern Western society, claiming the “malaise” that helped Ronald Reagan spoil Jimmy Carter’s re-election hopes is real. Percy’s philosophizing miserables blame “everydayness” in a world that promises unlimited possibilities that individuals—men, anyway—go nuts worrying if they’re making the right choices.
Here’s Percy explaining young Barrett’s epiphany after concluding the woman he’s peeped at through his telescope in Central Park—Kitty—is the love of his life: “For until this moment he had lived in a state of pure possibility, not knowing what sort of a man he was or what he must do, and supposing therefore that he must be all men and do everything. But after this morning’s incident his life took a turn in a particular direction. Thereafter he came to see that he was not destined to do everything but only one or two things. Lucky is the man who does not secretly believe that every possibility is open to him.” Alas, as this is the beginning of The Last Gentleman, and because this is a Walker Percy novel, we know poor Barrett has fooled himself once again.
As The Last Gentleman came out seven years after Percy’s debut, which shocked the literary world by winning a National Book Award, it’s understandable he was under considerable pressure to follow up The Moviegoer with another slam dunk. I’m guessing either he felt licensed by his success to pull out all of the stops, or he simply tried too hard. As I mentioned above, his writing is so splendid that the former seems more likely, and that he focused more on this aspect than on character and plot. Startlingly brilliant use of language in the oddest places kept me on my toes despite my body English trying to slap some sense into the infuriatingly waffling Will Barrett. Here are a couple of insights regarding silence that astonished me:
The engineer [Barrett] woke listening. Something had happened. There was not a sound, but the silence was not an ordinary silence. It was the silence of a time afterwards. It had been violated earlier. His heart beat a strong steady alarm. He opened his eyes. A square of moonlight lay across his knees.
“A shot had been fired. Had he dreamed it? Yes. But why was the night portentous? The silence reverberated with insult.”
And here’s description that’s pure beauty:It was a dewy bright haunted October morning. The silvery old Rock City barns leaned into the early sunlight. Killdeers went crying along the fallow fields where tough shallow spiderwebs were scattered like saucers. Now and then the Lincoln crossed deep railroad cuts filled with the violet light of ironweed.”

I have just started The Moviegoer for the fourth time, was surprised to see how happy the protagonist is with his situation. “I am a stock and bond broker,” Binx Bolling tells us. “It is true that my family was somewhat disappointed in my choice of a profession. Once I thought of going into law or medicine or even pure science. I even dreamed of doing something great. But there is much to be said for giving up such grand ambitions and living the most ordinary life imaginable, a life without the old longings; selling stocks and bonds and mutual funds; quitting work at five o’clock like everyone else; having a girl and perhaps one day settling down and raising a flock of Marcias and Sandras and Lindas of my own. Nor is the brokerage business as uninteresting as you might think. It is not a bad life at all.”
Presumably, when I read this the very first time, before the others, I felt good about old Binx (whom I would identify with) and settled in for a pleasant ride. Soon, however, still in the first chapter, I came upon the first uh oh: “For ten minutes I stand talking to Eddie Lovell and at the end of it, when we shake hands and part, it seems to me that I cannot answer the simplest question about what has taken place. As I listen to Eddie speak plausibly and at length of one thing and another—business, his wife Nell, the old house they are redecorating—the fabric pulls together into one bright texture of investments, family projects, lovely old houses, little theater readings and such. It comes over me: this is how one lives! My exile in Gentilly has been the worst kind of self-deception.”
Nonetheless, I much enjoyed the ride, bumps, frustrations, and all. That damned Percy!


[For more Friday's Forgotten Books check the links on Patti Abbott's unforgettable blog]

Thursday, August 31, 2017


I’m thinking now I should have re-read Walker Percy’s six novels in the order they appeared, and I’m trying to understand why I chose to do it randomly. It’s just occurred to me I might have started the re-reads the way I started the first-reads---at least at first. The Moviegoer appeared first, and I read it first and have no recollection what drew me to it. I’ve since read it twice more, most recently three years ago before I decided to read the other five again, as well. I recall that years after reading Moviegoer a reporter colleague at the newspaper that employed us recommended either The Last Gentleman or The Second Coming, and I read the one she suggested, which hooked me so thoroughly I then read the others on my own, as well as articles and interviews and Percy’s nonfiction books.
This time around my Percy reading hopped to and fro until I came to the two my colleague recommended decades ago. I chose The Second Coming because at this point I remembered enough of it to know it was my favorite of them all, despite the fact it’s the sequel to The Last Gentleman, which I intend to read next, and finally, one more time, The Moviegoer.
There. That said (I hate that expression), I remembered liking Coming best because of the protagonist’s quirky romance with a young woman he discovers while hunting an errant golf ball in a woods near his home and abutting the golf course. I almost wrote “literally stumbles upon” because he’d been falling down of late, and possibly had fallen again in the woods moments before he finds her living in an abandoned greenhouse there. I don’t remember all of the falling down episodes other than that most of them occur on or near the golf course. He’s approaching middle age and experiencing the existential (psychological and philosophical) torments characteristic of Percy’s male characters, and the young woman has escaped from a mental hospital.
The Second Coming was described in a Christian Science Monitor review as “a comedy shot through with serious observations.” That’s a fine description, which I could have paraphrased without crediting its author, Elizabeth Muther, but I wanted an excuse to link you to her review, which is better than anything I might write here. (It’s not that I’m humble, just...well, I think it’s dumb to try to reinvent wheels that have been around thirty-seven years by people who invent such things for a living. So I won’t do a plot synopsis or a philosophical analysis of Coming or rave about Percy’s cleverly satiric approach to his favorite theme: the search for meaning in a social culture that stifles individual awakening in a hothouse atmosphere of stale routine and expectations, other than to note that his caricatures of moneyed Southern archetypes are either dead-on or seem so because he’s such a damned good writer and the only vivid exposure I’ve had to moneyed Southern archetypes is from his damned good writing—even though I’ve lived in Virginia for nearly half a century.)
That said (Jesus, I hate that expression!), what drew me to Coming this time was the recollection of the romance between the falling-miserable-moneyed-slowly-going-nuts protagonist (with whom I identified—as always) and the nubile-amnesiac-slowly-exhibiting-sanity greenhouse dweller who hits it off with him (me). I’m discovering more and more that my long-held notion of being an encrusted, oh-yeah cynical newsman was something of a sham and am trying to hang onto at least some of that protective illusion by resisting my subliminal, puerile romantic inclinations inch by hard-fought inch, yet I enthusiastically gave myself a mulligan on this one, because, well, it’s Percy, what the hell. (And the girl “smells good.”)

I always give you, my faithful readers, a quote or two to both stretch out these reports a tad to make room for the illustrations, as well as to give you a taste of the author’s style. Writers are always told to “show, don’t tell,” so instead of telling you, as do most of the professionals, about an author’s craftsmanship, wit, grace, what have you, here’s a typical sampling. It not only covers all of the bases mentioned in the above sentence, it addresses an aspect of Percy’s work that invariably appears in critiques of his work, i.e. his Roman Catholicism, to which he converted and defended eloquently ever since. He keeps it sly and indirect in his fiction, and is not afraid to poke a little fun at the religious. Here’s what I mean:
IT WAS A FINE SUNDAY morning. The foursome teed off early and finished before noon. He drove through town on Church Street. Churchgoers were emerging from the eleven-o’clock service. As they stood blinking and smiling in the brilliant sunlight, they seemed without exception well-dressed and prosperous, healthy and happy. He passed the following churches, some on the left, some on the right: the Christian Church, Church of Christ, Church of God, Church of God in Christ, Church of Christ in God, Assembly of God, Bethel Baptist Church, Independent Presbyterian Church, United Methodist Church, and Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church.
Two signs pointing down into the hollow read: African Methodist Episcopal Church, 4 blocks; Starlight Baptist Church, 8 blocks.
One sign pointing up to a pine grove on the ridge read: St. John o’ the Woods Episcopal Church, 6 blocks.
He lived in the most Christian nation in the world, the U.S.A., in the most Christian part of that nation, the South, in the most Christian state in the South, North Carolina.”
The title? Oh, that. Percy and I (via his protagonist, Will Barrett) have a little fun with the biblical notion of End Times. Nothing serious...I think.


[For more Friday's Forgotten Books check the links on Patti Abbott's unforgettable blog]

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

LANCELOT – Walker Percy

It wouldn't have taken much over the forty years since Walker Percy's Lancelot first appeared to say the novel has gained in critical appraisal. Even damning with faint praise would have improved on its sneering dismissal in 1977 by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, who reviewed it for The New York Times. “...if it is true that Lancelot Lamar is not Walker Percy,” Lehmann-Haupt wrote, “then it is one of the very few respects in which this novel works as fiction.”

Lehmann-Haupt (I despise him alone for his pompous byline) thus concludes his review, which took nose-wrinkling offense at the “upsetting ideas” propounded by the novel’s hateful, murderous, bigoted “Southern gentleman” narrator Lancelot Andrewes Lamar, who is imprisoned throughout Percy’s fourth novel.
I, of course, did not read Lancelot with a critical eye. If I even have a critical eye it’s undoubtedly stunted and rarely if ever involved in my literary experiences. To me the idea of reading with an elevated pinky is akin to an academic exercise, likely to distract me from becoming absorbed in the experience. With Lancelot, though, I find I cannot avoid agreeing to a certain degree with the disagreeable Lehmann-Haupt. This is because I invariably identify with narrators and/or protagonists in novels, and it was a bit of a stretch for me to do so with the hateful, murderous, bigoted “Southern gentleman” Lancelot Andrewes Lamar. Nonetheless, the SOB fascinated me. I suspect this was because I felt Walker Percy’s presence in the guise of his main character walking a perilously high, thin wire, with his less admirable and his better selves on opposite ends of the balancing pole. Taking this risk, perhaps, that we might test our own balance on the same wire, with our own pole.
And there are a lot of distractions: wind gusts, birds flying too close, hecklers, rock throwers, the need to sneeze, pee—so much to jar our equilibrium. This, in 1977, seems nearer than ever to buffeting us into the void, this notion the U.S. is “down the drain. Everyone knows it. The people have lost it to the politicians, bureaucrats, drunk Congressmen, lying Presidents, White House preachers, C.I.A., F.B.I., Mafia, Pentagon, pornographers, muggers, buggers, bribers, bribe takers, rich crooked cowboys, sclerotic Southerners, rich crooked Yankees, dirty books, dirty movies, dirty plays, dirty talk shows, dirty soap operas, fags, lesbians, abortionists, Jesus shouters, anti-Jesus shouters, dying cities, dying schools, courses in how to fuck for schoolchildren.”
I had to check back with my Kindle edition of Lancelot to make sure I hadn’t inadvertently copied the above from something shouted during our last national election season. Sure enough, it’s a diatribe erupting from “Southern gentleman” Lancelot Andrewes Lamar in his long-winded (book-length), evidently uninterrupted monologue to “Percival”, a psychiatrist-priest he’s known since childhood. We see Percival speaking only at the novel’s very end, and then only answering questions from Lamar, and with only “yes” or “no”.
I read the diatribe cringing, of course, because of my inability not to identify with protagonists, but also finding myself agreeing with parts of Lancelot’s indictment. This ambivalence continued for me throughout the book.

Blogger Tom Conoboy, in a more recent (and more literary than this) revisit of Lancelot, says, “Percy creates a caricature to test how far one can go before a simple alienation from the modern slides into nihilism. Like Flannery O’Connor with Hazel Motes (although more convincingly), he tries to view the world through the eyes of someone who has become irreconcilably repulsed by it. Certainty becomes madness, rightful indignation rots into evil: in a world untouched by grace, Percy is telling us, only pain may reside, and only evil may obtain.”
Before he goes literary on us, comparing Lancelot with Camus’s The Fall, Conoboy gives us “the simplistic view,” suggesting that Percy might bedispatching us all to hell, with no hope of redemption whatever. However, the remarkable ending makes clear that Percy believes, on the contrary, that redemption is within our grasp.” Not surprising, as we know Percy is a Catholic and that the possibility of spiritual redemption is never completely out of the picture in his work.
I might clarify that were Lancelot merely a philosophical puzzle simplistically disguised as a novel you would not be reading this review, as I would not have finished the book. It’s the fourth of Percy’s six novels I’ve read more than once. I liked it probably superficially the first time, when it came out, and I liked it in more depth this time. This time I had the advantage of forty additional years of life, as well as having read everything I could find by Percy at least once, and having some time back bought a cheap park bench for sitting under our pecan trees trying to capture the relaxed, sardonic feeling Percy suggests in the publicity photos showing him sprawled on similar park benches. (if this seems a tad over the top for a grown man’s admiration of another grown man, consider this, which I found on the Wiki page devoted to Percy: “As young men, Percy and [lifelong friend Shelby] Foote decided to pay their respects to William Faulkner by visiting him in Oxford, Mississippi. But when they arrived at his home, Percy was so in awe of the literary giant that he could not bring himself to speak to him. He later recounted how he could only sit in the car and watch while Foote and Faulkner had a lively conversation on the porch.” Quite certain I’d have been equally dumbstruck by a similar opportunity to speak to Walker Percy.)
But back to Lancelot Andrewes Lamar, whom I should also despise because of his pompous name, but could not because I had to identify with him. And he really wasn’t that hard to identify with despite the tortured logic of his outrage. He’s a well-spoken, genteel Southern aristocrat from a defunct old family, known mainly for having run a punted football 110 yards for a touchdown against mighty Alabama. He’s been confined to a cell in a mental hospital for a year when we listen in on his book-long confession to the silent Percival. We learn incrementally several tangible things about Lancelot, that before his confinement he was an indifferent lawyer and that he lost his marbles when he discovered that the daughter he thought was his by his current (second) wife was fathered by someone else.
We learn by increments the agonizing steps Lancelot and his wife took from the moment he learned of his cuckoldry to the happening that landed him in the cell.

I learned something provocative as a coda to the novel, in a comment someone posted anonymously on the Conoboy essay. Some might consider it a spoiler, but I read it before finishing my second read of Lancelot, and it introduced a whole ‘nother way to look at the story: “In 1987, I wrote to Walker Percy, reporting that I'd seen a first edition copy of The Moviegoer priced at $600. I also asked about the accuracy of my speculation that the novel, Lancelot, ended with the priest prepared to confess that he was the father of the character, Siobhan.
In a single-leaf, handwritten letter with his rubber-stamped letterhead, Mr. Percy replied on May 29, 1987:

Dear Kevin-
You should have picked up that Moviegoer at $600 if it was in good shape. In NYC last month, I ran into a guy who paid $1500 for one-For odd lesser known books of mine, I'd advise getting in touch with John Evans, Lemuria Bookstore, Highland Village, Jackson, Miss.
In answer to your question re Siobhan: Would you believe I don't remember? I never read a novel once it is written, being sick to death with it. I'll take your version though. It must be so.
Kevin” adds, “To me, it explains much of the story.” I wouldn’t go so far, but it adds a dimension I’m still considering.
Might have to read the damned book yet again!

[Find more Friday's Forgotten Books links at Todd Mason's amazingly eclectic blog]