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                                                                Ourselves to Know

On February 27, 1960 Random House published Ourselves to Know (408 pages and fifteen months after From the Terrace).

The setting is Lyons, Pennsylvania, fiction for Lykens, home of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Delaney, John O'Hara's maternal grandparents. In the book the Delaneys are Mr. and Mrs. Jeremiah MacMahon, whose grandson, Gerald Higgins (first cousin to Jimmy Malloy) narrates the story of Robert Millhouser.

Matthew Bruccoli describes Robert as "...an emotionally deficient man who in his fifties, not blinded by love, marries a vicious teenage nymphomaniac in an atempt to stave off emotional starvation." The O'Hara Concern, page 260.

Hedda Steele Millhouser is as hatable as Caroline Walker English is lovable. Robert shoots her. I hesitated to print the following execution scene but decided that with all the media violence out there anyway to go ahead:

   ... What he had to do must be done while darkness remained. His hand found the pistol and he went to Hedda's room.
   He stood at the foot of her bed until he could make out the outlines of her body; then there was more light, and he could see her slowly changing her sleeping position, so that she now lay with her right cheek on the pillow, her left arm extended so that the hand hung over the edge of the bed. He moved closer, put out his hand until the pistol was scarcely a yard away from her. He cocked the pistol and fired into her heart.
   She did not move...

The novel describes Lyons from the middle of the eighteen hundreds until the early nineteen forties.

There is a wonderful description of a bedroom, too long to put in today but maybe in a day or so.

1 comment:

RichardS said...

Really enjoying your series of posts and extracts. Am re-reading "Ourselves to Know" (after 20 years!) on the strength of this post.