EDGAR ALLAN, afterword II

June, 2015

This has been a terrible month for the United States. And exhilarating.

From Ferguson, Missouri, to Baltimore, from Cleveland to Atlanta, then Selma, Miami, Chicago, St.Louis, North Charleston and Charleston itself, the nation has shown itself not simply prejudiced but filled with hate.

All of our vaunted “equality under the law” has been proven to be indeed “under the law.”

Men have shot at, knifed, whipped, kicked and beaten other men of differing color.

EDGAR ALLAN was published in 1968. It was notable for speaking honestly of the differences between the “races” and of being, in its ending, unforgiving.

Nearly fifty years later what had been “discipline” measured from above, from higher “classes,” no longer was. There was, in current parlance, “push-back.” Blacks were as handy with weaponry as whites, for the same reasons. The ease of purchasing guns of all types was too great a temptation for many.

In its time, EDGAR ALLAN was thought of as a “soft” story. Yes, durable and edgy, hard-hitting, but soft in its language, its incidents, its conclusions. It carried nearly unanimous “starred reviews”, was named a NYTimes’ Book of the Year, flew to TIME Magazine’s Christmas list, made lists everywhere as one of the year’s best novels. It was translated into Japanese, Spanish, Swedish, Dutch, and Swiss (both French and German).

What EDGAR ALLAN has turns out to have been is an avatar.

Its author imagined better times and closer, deeper understandings.

We now know he was wrong.

As a novel, the book was a success. As a lesson, it failed miserably.

BUT it is still what might have been – what can still be.

EDGAR ALLAN can be harder today than it was, rougher, more raw. Its music can be operatic or country. Its venue need not change. Nor its characters. Nor even its conclusion.

As a film, EDGAR ALLAN can now be a respite amid storms. Welcome as a relief from mindless violence.

Its day may well have arrived.

John Neufeld
Salisbury, June 29,2015


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