Sunday, November 22, 2015

American Dream: Lost Girls

When a girl leaves her home at eighteen, she does one of two things. Either she falls into saving hands and becomes better, or she rapidly assumes the cosmopolitan standard of virtue and becomes worse. Of an intermediate balance, under the circumstances, there is no possibility. The city has its cunning wiles, no less than the infinitely smaller and more human tempter. There are large forces which allure with all the soulfulness of expression possible in the most cultured human. The gleam of a thousand lights is often as effective as the persuasive light in a wooing and fascinating eye. Half the undoing of the unsophisticated and natural mind is accomplished by forces wholly superhuman. A blare of sound, a roar of life, a vast array of human hives, appeal to the astonished senses in equivocal terms. Without a counselor at hand to whisper cautious interpretations, what falsehoods may not these things breathe into the unguarded ear! Unrecognized for what they are, their beauty, like music, too often relaxes, then weakens, then perverts the simpler human perceptions.
Theodore Dreiser - Sister Carrie, Published 1900

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Bjorn Brodsky

kirkus reviews charles-j-hackett/the-last-happy-hour/

The Last Happy Hour by Charles Hackett

The author was a World War II veteran, Hospital Administrator, and father to a curious perp with a neck full of herp.

This book is a semi-autobiographical work predominantly focusing on the conversations between three US Army lieutenants: Henderson, Rhatigan, and our nameless narrator (Charles J. Hackett). The book opens with a short dedication to the author's only child, "To Peter". The narrator refers to his only child as "Paul", and though the book primarily focuses on the war time discussions, he does manage to mention his son on a few occasions.

When I reached page 8, I knew I would have to finish this book. Page eight dives right into the inability to convert "whores" with pious argument. (needle scratches record) Wow are you saying that the father of a potential suspect in the case Long Island Serial Killer Case (serial murder of sex workers) wrote a book that discusses converting whores? Yes reader, that is correct. Maybe the topic of converting whores is more popular than I think it is, maybe you and your family discuss this topic at the dinner table or at the ball game, but my family never discussed converting whores, nor do I recall anyone I know discussing the specific idea that religion can't convert a whore. I can't say that I was surprised by this extremely unfortunate overlap of topics, after all we are talking about an extremely "unlucky" individual; CPH.

As I managed to crawl my way through the book, I was informed of the sad fact that the young boy did not have a mother or mother figure as his mother died two weeks after giving birth to the boy. Sadly, she was only 22 years old when she died. The mother isn't discussed beyond that in the book, only that they weren't married, and her relationship to the narrator was marginal.

The narrator details his post war life as a traveling administrative consultant to hospitals, where he would bring his boy along on his business trips. They would stay in motels and hotels around the northeast while the father cavorted with different insignificant women, sometimes the women were "dancers" in Atlantic City. (unlucky meter in the red again)

Mentions of his son are far outweighed by mentions of the consumption of alcohol and inappropriate sexual relations with various promiscuous women during and after the war. The few mentions of the boy are indeed curious as we learn that due to the amount of time he spent around hospitals, he would try and please his father by showing him how perfectly he could "dissect a lobster" at the early age of 4. And yes, the boy is actually allergic to dogs.

Another paragraph of interest comes early in the book, when the narrator violently details his own rampage through the streets of a German village murdering every living thing in his path, old men, women, children, little girls and their pet bunnies, and even priests.

It's really a very unfortunate description of a boy's early life if people are suspecting him in the Long Island Serial Killer case.....

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