An open letter I can get behind. Even though I never finished Preston Falls and might choose to phrase things a bit differently, I do love me some Jernigan. That guy will make you laugh (“I had my usual thoughts about everything being debased”) and make you laugh and cry:
I ran into the house but Rick was already in there shouting into the telephone, and back outside a crowd had gathered around the car and the van. But nobody was getting too close. It looked like a scene out of an old Twilight Zone, neighbors on some little suburban street looking at the flying saucer whose arrival would soon reveal what fascists they all were. Pretty inappropriate thing to be thinking, but. The whole thing, in fact, looked as if it were in black and white. I should have gone and pushed through the crowd and done something. Later they told me it had been over instantly: no blame. Right. But at any rate, I walked around the end of the garage instead and back to the pool, now deserted. I climbed the steps up onto the deck, felt like I was going to black out, quick sat down on something, and when the shiny flecks stopped swimming in front of my eyes I looked down and saw her wet footprints fading.
Well, I remember being awfully impressed with that last image when I first read this book as a young ‘un, anyway–I remember sucking my breath in at it. Now I’m not so sure. It doesn’t affect me to nearly the same degree, whether simply because I’m more discerning now or because it’s the sort of thing that rings the bell only the one time you don’t see it coming.
Jernigan is an amazing book in any case, and alone makes Gates fair game for Mr. Demko’s, er, encouragement.