Monday, February 07, 2011

Random Readings, Vol. 10

This installment of Random Readings is a meditation on manhood, from Helen Eustis' 1953 novel THE FOOL KILLER, about a young orphan boy roaming the post-Civil War American South, and the strange companion he picks up along the way. (It was filmed in 1965 with Anthony Perkins and Edward Albert). In this passage, the boy, George Mellish, having witnessed an attempted-murder-turned-suicide, gets some post-traumatic-stress counseling from a benevolent father figure who's taken him in:

"Well, George," says he, "looks like here's a case where they ain't nothing for it but to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and start in to be a man ...
"I don't reckon nobody could give you an exact recipe, but I'll tell you the best I know. Seems to me like you got to look at the facts and look at em straight, but not go play-acting off in this direction and that, making out things is worse than they are when they're bad enough to begin with. You seen some dreadful things happen ... Ain't no wonder if you don't know what to make of em ... Only this much I do know: ain't no use laying here turning yourself inside out over your fault, his fault, t'other one's fault; and it ain't no use brooding over dreadfulness, neither. You got to think of them good times ... and try your level best to put the awful ones out of your mind. Enjoy the good and stand up to the bad - that's the best I can tell you how to be a man."

by Helen Eustis (1953)

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