Gay studied oconnor the way an evangelical studies Genesis, and from her brilliance he learned how short fiction is shaped, how a character can come alive in just a few lines, and, more important, how to tell a story that matters. when the novel, the long Home arrived in the world a decade ago, william gay was fifty-six years old and right away compared to both Barry hannah and Larry Brown. Where did those years go between the teenager who read Wolfe and the middle-aged man who published his first novel? They went to the navy, to vietnam, and then after the war to stints in Chicago and Greenwich Village (gay bumped into janis Joplin at a pub). Back in Tennessee the years went to marriage, to children, to a mortgage, and to the construction work that paid for it all. But his time also went to reading and writing, to accumulating experience that no campus could provide, to honing movie his craft into a diamond tip. The chasm of those decades was widened by the fact that gay didnt know writers, hadnt made academic connections, wasnt given feedback.
The man knows hes an abomination; hes made his peace with that fact. The second miracle: how gay can massage your morality into feeling miniature sparks of sympathy for this child killer, a lonesome and forsaken recluse who suspects that his own birth was a cosmic error. The paperhanger turns. Pritchetts definition of the short story, something glimpsed from the corner of the eye, in passing, into something that confronts you head-on, always. Oconnor accomplishes the same magic throughout. A good Man Is Hard to find, the story collection gay read as an adolescent; he bought the signet paperback and knew—immediately, instinctually—that they were the best American stories ever written. He marveled over her packed sentences, her perfect endings.
Free memorable moment, essays and Papers
None—not boyhood trauma or possession by devils—because he knows that woodlands such explanations are trite, exhausted, imaginary, that human beings commit acts of abrupt barbarity that no therapist, no writer, can ever adequately explain. When the paperhanger appears with the frozen body in his arms, the moment is outrageous, satanic, inevitable. As the wife sleeps, the paperhanger whispers: Sometimes. You do things you cant undo. You breaks things you just cant fix. Before you mean to, before you know youve done. There are things only a miracle can set to rights.
Does he regret the murder in those lines, the devastation he delivered to a family? Regret is possible only when one has not accepted ones nature or the cruelty of the wilderness from which we emerged naked and panting like beasts. The paperhanger is too much himself, too comfortable with Hobbesian analyses of human destiny, or what Hume aptly called the natural depravity of mankind, to wonder how he ought be a more benevolent man. He departs in the wifes car, tracking into wide-open territories he could infect like a malignant spore, and thinking about not just the possibility but the inevitability of miracles. He will beget more carnage, to be sure. The miracle he ponders: the rabid injustice of this business called living, gods abandonment of his creation, lunatics set loose. It seems a miracle that a place designed by a loving deity could be thoroughly polluted by such monsters.
She meets the paperhanger there one afternoon. That evening they lie in his bed after alcohol and urgent intercourse; the wife sleeps. And then the paperhanger goes from the bedroom only to return a moment later with the frozen body of the tiny girl, wrapped in plastic. . he arranges the corpse next to her mother, and then himself disappears into the ancient evening. Gays The paperhanger temps you to classify it, explain it, wonder at its majesty and terror—the story is The tell-Tale heart written by the bastard offspring of Wilkie collins and Charles Manson, in a prose part Hebrew Bible, part Hemingway—and then defies such feeble attempts.
The story breathes, enigmatically, as if just born; the odors of blood, beer, and birth fluid waft up from the page. Gays story offers almost no information about these characters: not where they come from, not their fevered dreams, not what they yearn for at first light. In his short fiction, hemingway—an early, necessary influence on gay—famously withholds motives and histories. Gay learned from Hemingway never to clarify what the reader is capable of clarifying himself; verbosity maims, insults the dignity of narrative. In The paperhanger we know only how the characters react in the midst of an unexpected mystery, how their language reveals their warped psyches, and with that alone gay enables us to know them for life, to taste their sweat. The paperhanger is simultaneously ominous sprite and veritable everyman. Once her mother drifted from the room, the little girl jabbed out her tongue at him and the paperhangers hand shot from his side like a serpent and snapped the childs neck. Fragile as a christmas bulb, she was tiny enough to fit inside his toolbox. What psychological explanation does gay give for the paperhangers crime? .
Essay, writer hire pay for Best Professional Academic
The paperhanger—he has no name; the force within him eludes definition—feels belittled by the wife. The couples tiny daughter pesters him; she plays with his hair while he labors on his knees. His calm in the face of this annoyance is unnatural, otherworldly. Then the tiny girl goes missing business in the house; authorities arrive to mount a search; the paperhanger and others have their vehicles checked, and then they aid in the search. She is not found. The pakistani couple separates under the strain. The grief-sunk wife keeps returning to the unfinished mansion.
His two younger brothers fell in line; they and their father had enough southern machismo to fire a rocket. They hunted and fished; gay, on the other hand, wasnt much interested in killing things. About his mother, gay offers one summary word only: loyalty. A vigilant teacher in high school noticed that the boy was reading Zane Gray westerns in his extra time, and thinking Zane Gray too inferior for the boys thriving intellect, the teacher passed him a copy. Gay considers this gift the turning point of his life: Wolfes novel ignited him to his core; it proffered him the insight that this can be done, that a writing life for him was not a drunken pipe dream. Studs Lonigan, wolfes, look homeward, Angel is the quintessential American novel of experience, of growing, of how a home fashions a psyche for good or for ill. It allotted gay the confidence to tell the stories of his own experience and the certain knowledge that those experiences were valuable even though they lacked privilege and swagger. Wolfe lit the green lantern at the end of the dock; oconnor and faulkner provided him the vessel to get there. Here is the horror story, a masterpiece of brutality and loss worthy of oconnor: In an upscale region in Tennessee, a wealthy pakistani couple employs tradesmen to complete work on their mansion.
Harry Crews, one of the four horsemen of the southern apocalypse. There was not a single pocket in Tennessee in which gay could hide from faulkners commanding influence. For an aspiring writer in working-class Lewis county, faulkner existed in the very air. He was a kind of Delphic oracle for new scribes: without him nothing even remotely literary came to pass. Gay read faulkner in the thirty-five-cent Signet editions he bought at the local drugstore in Hohenwald, tennessee. He had been buying notebooks and pens since childhood, but now, late in high school, charged by oconnors and faulkners doomed visions of the south, he began to formulate his own fiction, began to heed the insistent voices calling from within. His parents contemplated the boy as something of an anomaly; although gay was the first in the family to finish high school, his mother and father werent sure that writing was a prudent choice of occupation. Gays father toiled as a sharecropper and at whatever blue collar drudgery came along.
The falling Man, esquire