Of course, going through your old books is nothing compared to going through boxes of old letters from and to your father and your dead mother and realizing that your mother’s side of the family, from which you’ve unofficially but firmly cut yourself off because you thought it was made up of bigoted raving lunatics, is in fact made up of bigoted raving lunatics, but that they’re bigoted raving lunatics who are nonetheless eloquently and acutely aware of how painful the human condition is. Who write about kids in military school and say:
“E. & Y. and the others have gone–one by one–but they have gone–to their ships or training schools or home on leave–but gone. You can’t imagine how sad and perilously young they look in their shiny uniforms . . . the very rending quality of their separation. . . .”
This from a man who subscribes to Southern Partisan, a magazine that believes the
Civil War War Between the States War of Northern Aggression is still going on.
I may have to deal with a lot of crazy people in Manhattan, but at least they all fit in the boxes I put them in.