Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on August 17, 1975 · Page 82
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 82

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 17, 1975
Page 82
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SPEAKING OF BOOKS Girl on a horse "CATCH RIDES," by Sara McAulay, her mother, is grateful of her for Knopf, $7.95. Annie Gordon lives a life without a plan or design of any kind, without any identifiable hopes, without even any fantasies about her future. The idea of having expectations of any sort seems to her as incongruous as, say, wearing white gl^es or a hat with a veil. She laughs at the idea of "starting at the beginning and ending at the end." She says, "Stop moving and how do you know you aren't dead? You shouldn't close doors, she believes, that you haven't yet tried to open. Annie makes a living riding in smalltown horse shows. She almost made the Olympic Riding Team when she was a teenager, but was dropped because she wouldn't go gung-ho. Yes, I know the type, some of you will be saying--yet Annie is not a type. She is so reasonable that she makes you re-examine your prejudices about some of her feelings. She is attractive, affectionate, sexy, ironical, thoughtful, nature-loving, loyal--all sorts of good things. And she rides to win; she likes to do things well. Sara McAulay seems to know all about Anne's, world. She certainly can describe horses in a way that makes me interested in them, though I never was before. She shows you what a good rider can and cannot do with a bad horse and gives a good horse a quality of nobility without getting too anthropomorphic about it. And the author rier lets Annie sink into self-pity about the bleakness of the local fairs .on their baked-out grounds, or about her own grounds either. Annie reminds me of a lot of "rebels" under 25 that I have met, only she is not really a rebel. She doesn't preach, doesn't want to change the world, hurls no accusations. She is simply separated from the conventions by what amounts to a reflex. At one point in "Catch Rides," we see her trying to write a letter to her mother: She loves many things, doesn't dispise her way of life, wants very much to make her feel good with this letter. But the letter simply will not bridge the gap between them. It becomes an essay on a subject that might conceivably interest her mother, a chronicle of the surface doings in her life, a parody of herself. She can't find a vehicle for her love. . It is the same way with Annie's men. She sleeps with Bill Fritchie because he is so graceful on a horse, because they have interests in common, because he appreciates her for what she is, because he rarely asks for anything she cannot give. She loves him, in a way, because he is of her world, because he is there for her as most people are not. But here, too, there is no vehicle. Annie lives in the present, the here and now, more than any other* character I can easily call to mind. Although we haven't got a single thing in common, in the sense of developed interest, I'm sure I'd like her if I knew her. She is one of those people who transcends her circumstances. I feel that, the way the world is tending, it may come up with a role or a place for her--or accept what she is doing as a new convention. In "Catch Rides," Sara McAulay sits easily in the saddle. She is not perfect--there are some overly sentimental moments and her caricatures can get heavy--but her prose is generally an agile and tough as a mustang. The question boils down to this: Is Annie right? Is her life enough, even for her? What will happen when she can't sit a horse any longer, can't catch any more rides? Is this it? As she herself says. I don't think it is. Still, I haven't got any better suggestions for her, given her peculiar talents and tastes. I guess I'd have to say that she's doing the best she can, and that it is becoming to her. - · · By Anatole Broyard Mr. Broyard It a staff writer for the New York Times. The mountain Brooks "THE APPALACHIANS," by Maurice Brooks, Seneca Books, Inc., $6.50. This isn't a successor to "The Southern Appalachians," a recently-published book by Charlton Ogburn, but rather a predecessor. Brooks, professor emeritus of forestry at West Virginia University and perhaps the state's best- known conservationist, wrote his book in 1965. It is now available in paperback for the first time through Seneca Books of Grantsville. Although almost 10 years old, "The Appalachians" is every bit as timely and interesting now as it was in 1965, and less expensive in paperback. New readers will surely enjoy Pseudo-Freudian Potboiler "AN ARRANGED MARRIAGE;" by Inge Trachtenberg, Norton, 16.95. The impact of Sigmund Freud has diminished considerably in recent years. Modern psychologists have, for the most part, either rejected his theories or extended them to a point the Viennese doctor himself could not have foreseen. And his once-shocking pronouncements on human sexuality now seem commonplace, even old-fashioned. Inge Trachtenberg's novel is alfeffort to remind us this was not always so.. Set in Germany and Austria in the years before, during, and after the First World War, "An Arranged Marriage" deals with the sexual conflicts of a married couple; Lucy and Herrmann Rosenkrantz, brought about partly by Lucy's fear of Herrmann's epilepsy, but even more by Lucy's inhibitions, which prevent her from hon- ea8y confronting her own sexual nature. The purpose of all this, of course, is to get the couple to Vien- na and to Dr. Freud's couch, for a fictionalized "case study." Such a story has dramatic possibilities, but the novel never gets much above the level of soap opera and is written in a hideous pulp-fiction style, containing lines such as the following: "At each meeting, there was that first bold glance. A look tually touched, caressed, burned." In fact, the book is full of caressing looks, burning touches, and all the cliches that may have been titillating to readers 40 years ago, but now seem more ludicrous than anything else. If you are seriously interested in the work of Dr. Freud, the many available books on his actual cases are likely to be more informative and more interesting than this sensationalistic potboiler. And if you're merely looking for an erotic novel, you will find Ms. Trachtenberg's idea of erotica rather dated. John Teel (Mr. Teel teaches English at Marshall University.) Brooks' style, which is entertaining first and informative second. Anyone who plans to travel in the Appalachians will find this book a handy guide to take along, although it isn't really that kind of book. It's a book about genseng, ramps, fire towers, ferns, rhododendrons, azaleas, wild orchids., salamanders, hawks, hunting, mountain lions, muskegs and, of course, the everlasting hills. Brooks' comments on the famous Cranberry Glades, which he calls the prototype of the southern muskegs, are refreshingly honest. He bows to no man in his appreciation of the glades, but he points out that they have been oversold. Unless you're a botanist, you won't find them any big deal. In one chapter, he deals with U.S. Forest Service fire towers, which he calls "evidence that someone cares about the forest." Unfortunately, since the book was published the Forest. Service has closed its towers in favor of spotting fires from airplanes. It won't even let visitors climb the towers at their own risk. Unlike Ogburn and other latter- day naturalists, Brooks recognizes the role of hunting in nature. "Among eastern mountaineers who no longer have to hunt to eat," he wrote, "the pursuit of big game is a spice to everyday activities, valued because it is so limited. Small game seasons are much more extended". "The proportion of mountain people -- men and women, boys and - girls -- who are ardent in these activities is amazing. Nearly everyone participates;, it is evident that pioneer tradition is still a force in . the land." Brooks devotes a chapter, "Not By Bread Alone," to wildlife and hunting, and it's as good a commentary as you're likely to find on the two subjects. --Skip Johnson The Mysterious Mollie Fancher By Doane R. Hoag BROOKLYN, N.Y., Aug. 17,1875 - In a huge four-poster bed, in a l a r g e , o l d - f a s h i o n e d house in Brooklyn, an attractive 25-year old woman lies as still as death, her eyes closed, her face pale, her right hand curled curiously under her head. For nine years, ever since a trolley car accident had injured her brain and thrown her into this trance-like coma, Mollie Fancher has lain in this same position, never once opening her.eyes. Shortly after the onset of the trance, Mollie as a-person disappeared, and in her place was a mature, bitter woman of 40 who said her name was Idol. Keenly intelligent, she was able to discourse on almost any subject with her doctors and" visitors. Then Idol disappeared, and there was Rosebud, a happy seven year old. After Rosebud came Sunbeam, a 16-year old. Next there was Shirley, vavacious and witty. Finally there was Pearl, a lonely, desperately unhappy person who came only at night. At 7 p.m. this day, while Mollie's aunt and brother were sitting by her bedside, "That Mollie suddenly opened her eyes--the first · .time in nine years. "Where an I?" she asked. "What happened?" Her memory had picked up exactly where it had left off at the time of the accident. She completely recovered consciousness, but was still unable to leave her bed -either now. or for the rest of her life. But along with returning consciousness, she now seemed to have developed an astonishing pow- "er of extra-sensory perception. It was said she could tell the color of objects even in the dark, just by her sense of touch. Sometimes she would announce the arrival of a visitor long before he actually appeared. At one time a judge who was a family friend came to call. "I saw you an hour ago," Mollie . liled. "You were with a tall, slender, dark-complexioned man with a full beard." The judge was speechless. Mollie had precisely described the man he had been with exactly an hour ago. 'A year later the same judge came to call again. This time he brought a friend with him. The moment they walked into the room, Mollie said: "That is the man I saw you with last year! She was right. But of all Mollie Fancher's powers, the greatest of all was simply her ability to remain happy and cheerful even when confined to her bed, a hopeless invalid, for fifty unbroken years. Her case reached the newspapers, and visitors came from every state in the union to see and talk to her. She received them all, sending them away with the feeling that they had never met a more charming person. Although it was difficult for her to handle a pen, she wrote over 6,000 letters to people all over the world -- letters of encouragement and hope -- that always seemed to arrive at the moment they were needed the most. On February 3. 1916, Mollie held a grand party in her old house in Brooklyn. Celebrities came-from all over the country to attend. Even President Woodrow Wilson was among the guests. It was one of the brightest social events of the season -- presided over by a woman who could not even rise from her bed! Eight days later; Mollie Fancher closed her eyes for the last time, leaving behind not only one of the most puzzling enigmas in medical history, but also a fascinating memory of a courageous spirit that no amount of tragedy or suffering could subdue. (Copyright Doane tipag 1975) 22m CHA RUESTON; W: :VA\ A ugust '1

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