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You Can't Go Home Again
You Can't Go Home Again | Thomas Wolfe
32 posts | 10 read | 1 reading | 3 to read
Brad Smith, a funny, poignant, evocative (Dennis Lehane) crime novelist, debuts a new series set in upstate New York featuring jack-of-all trades, Virgil Cain, who must clear his name of two murders while on the run from the law in this spirited country noir. Mickey Dupree is one of the most successful criminal attorneys in upstate New York, having never lost a capital murder case. That is the upside of being Mickey. The downside: Mickey has a lot of enemies and one of them drives the shaft of a golf club through his heart, leaving him dead in a sand trap at his exclusive country club. The cops, led by a dim-witted detective named Joe Brady, focus their attentions on Virgil Cain. Just two weeks earlier Virgil told a crowded bar that somebody ought to blow Mickeys head off, after the slippery lawyer earned an acquittal for Alan Comstock, the man accused of murdering Virgils wife. Comstock, a legendary record producer, gun nut, and certifiable lunatic, has returned to his estate, where he lives with his wife, the long suffering Jane. It appears to Virgil that the fix is in when Brady immediately throws him into jail with no questions asked. In order to set things right, Virgil escapes from jail, determined to find Mickeys killer himself. Aside from a smart and sexy detective named Claire Marchand, everybody is convinced that Virgil is the culprit. When Alan Comstock is discovered with six slugs in his body the day after Virgils escape, his guilt is almost assured. Now it is up to Virgil to convince everyone of his innocenceby finding the killer before he winds up as the next victim.
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Butterfinger
Pickpick

By the time I neared the end, I came to the realization that You Can't Go Home Again was written to show how Wolfe's worldview had evolved through his life's experiences. I resented his apparent passivity to racism. I scorned his descriptions of the rich. I was appalled at the mistreatment of his fellow train passenger. He understood his innocence will never return. He saw and lived inhumanity and knew it to be ugly. #wolferead Thank you @Lcsmcat

Lcsmcat I think George Webber was passive about so much because he existed to be a bystander to witness what went on in the world during some very turbulent years. He was almost a Greek chorus of one in some places, if aGreek chorus didn‘t talk, but enabled others to. There were so many times that a character was talking for paragraphs and, every now and then Wolfe wrote “George said nothing so X went on.” 3mo
Lcsmcat I‘m glad you joined me. It kept me going! I hope you found it worth reading. 3mo
Butterfinger @Lcsmcat reading the letter to Fox was sad knowing that he would be dead before those words were published. When a writer acknowledges bigotry, is it being passive. Think about the part of the different cultures of waiters and police - the culture of a writer is to inform. I think this was his plan of action. I wish he hadn't died. Would Wolfe have spoken out against racism in a more aggressive way? 3mo
Lcsmcat @Butterfinger I wasn‘t saying Wolfe was passive. I think Webber was being passive as a tool for Wolfe to show what he wanted to show. Much of Book 6 and Book 7 I was wondering “what if Wolfe had lived longer?” And how much of the foreshadowing, if any, was added in by his editor? 3mo
Butterfinger @Lcsmcat I understand what you are saying. You are absolutely right. 3mo
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Lcsmcat
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Pickpick

Thanks to my reading buddy, I made it through the final chunkster of the summer. Wolfe has moments of brilliant prose, interspersed with way too many adjectives. There was real growth in the MC, and many ideas to ponder. It‘s a pick. Now I‘m going to read books of less than 600 pages for awhile. 😀 I‘ll still be checking in with my #wplfereads buddies. I want to hear your thoughts, particularly on Book 7.

Tamra That is an accomplishment! 3mo
Lcsmcat @Tamra It wasn‘t like a challenge or anything, but I ended up reading 4 books of over 500 pages (one of them nearly 900) this summer. So it‘s fitting that I finished this one on the last day of summer, but I‘m ready for something less monumental. 😀 3mo
Butterfinger I feel like celebrating. There were times I was engaged and times I wanted to use it as a door stop. 3mo
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Lcsmcat @Butterfinger We should definitely celebrate! I never felt like using it as a door stop, because mine‘s a paperback, but there were times I wanted to throw it across the room. 😀 3mo
Butterfinger @Lcsmcat I enjoyed my first buddy read. If you ever want to do another, think of me. 3mo
Lcsmcat @Butterfinger Absolutely! Getting other perspectives on a book makes the experience that much richer. 3mo
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Butterfinger
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P 465 #wolferead @Lcsmcat almost your own words. LOL!!

Lcsmcat Funny! 3mo
Lcsmcat I read that the McHarg character is supposed to be Sinclair Lewis. I wonder if he said that to Wolfe? 3mo
Butterfinger @Lcsmcat I wondered if he based it on a real person. In the same chapter he referred to James Joyce with a fictitious name. 3mo
Lcsmcat I noticed that too. 3mo
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Lcsmcat
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“And about Hitler‘s Germany he felt that one must be very true. And the reason one needed to be very true was that the thing in it which every decent person must be against was false. You could not turn the other cheek to wrong, but also, it seemed to him, you could not be wrong about wrong. You had to be right about it. You could not meet lies and trickery with lies and trickery, although there were some people who argued that you should.” 👇🏻

Lcsmcat Two things struck me here. First, Wolfe died before the start of WWII, much less our entry into it. And second, why have we still not learned this lesson! I‘m finding so much in these last 100 pages. #wolfereads 3mo
Tamra @Lcsmcat 😑 3mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat ( @Tamra ) 😐 Lies and trickery all the way down, so it sometimes seems 3mo
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Lcsmcat
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I‘m loving Mrs. Pur is‘ anti-George pro-Edward rant, knowing how it all actually turned out. 😂 But I did have to look up the actual date of the abdication. #wolferead

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Lcsmcat
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What do you think, #wolferead buddies? True, or Webber/Wolfe‘s mental state talking?

Butterfinger True. Only Wolfe could describe loneliness so eloquently. 3mo
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Lcsmcat
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“Baseball‘s a dull game, really; that‘s the reason that it is so good. We do not love the game so much as we love the sprawl and drowse and shirt-sleeved apathy of it.” I have to agree with him here. #wolferead

Leftcoastzen 😁👍👏 3mo
barbwire Just to play devil‘s advocate: “Sandor Boatly had never guessed that, properly played, baseball consisted of mathematics, geometry, art, philosophy, ballet, and carnival, all intertwined like the mystical ribbons of color in a rainbow.” __W.P. Kinsella 3mo
Lcsmcat @barbwire Point taken. But I still agree with Wolfe. 3mo
barbwire 😇⚾️ 3mo
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Butterfinger

For the life of me I can't understand Wolfe's purpose in writing a man's death as he gruesomely did in ch 29. The history of America was weaved through the fabrication of his death. It was very disturbing. #wolferead

Lcsmcat I know he died of Tuberculosis, but this whole book makes me think he struggled with mental illness. Maybe writing about this death the way he did was a way of exorcising his demons? 3mo
Butterfinger @Lcsmcat mental illness would explain the different writing styles. He jumps from describing people's personalities by detailing how they wake up in the morning to talking to the reader and explaining in a weird way that is just hard to understand. I think he was so intellectually gifted, I'm left with wondering what it is I'm reading. He is affecting me; I'm not even making sense. 3mo
Lcsmcat @Butterfinger 😂 There is some gorgeous writing in there, but sometimes I wish someone had stolen his thesaurus! Why use 1 adjective when 5 or 6 will do. 🤣 3mo
Butterfinger @Lcsmcat 😂😂 3mo
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Butterfinger

Up to ch 31 #wolferead. Reading the part how Libya Hill was affected by the Depression really shook me. I don't know why. I've always known NC was affected too. I think this week I am going to research Asheville during the Depression. It also reminded me of Its a Wonderful Life - except the Building Trust is run by unscrupulous men and the blind judge (Mr. Potter) may be who saves the town through evil, cruel ways.

Lcsmcat Playing catch-up. I didn‘t have much reading time this past week. Maybe your research will let me catch up to you. 😀 But if not, I‘d still like to hear what you learn. 3mo
Butterfinger @Lcsmcat I hope I didn't spoil it too much. 3mo
Lcsmcat @Butterfinger I don‘t believe in spoilers, especially with classics. We usually “know” the story before we read it. But the writing we can‘t get from reviews etc. And that‘s what I read for. So no worries. 😀 3mo
Lcsmcat I just watched Genius, the 2016 movie about Wolfe and his editor Maxwell Perkins. It‘s worth the hour and 45 minutes, if you‘re interested. 3mo
Butterfinger Thanks for letting me know @Lcsmcat 3mo
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Lcsmcat
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“These were the innumerable small fry who became . . . embattled vegetarians, or believers in salvation through nudism.” 🤣 #wolferead

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Butterfinger
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#wolferead Finished Book 2. When the firemen flooded the basement, did the water kill the 500 people who were on the sub? Did the union start the fire just to kill the 2 elevator men who didn't go to the meeting? What does everyone else think?

Lcsmcat I think the trains were greatly delayed, but no one was killed. It‘s the two elevator operators who died. But we‘ll see, won‘t we. 3mo
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Butterfinger
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I'm not done. Did Wolfe write this way to show the rich deserved to fall? Should we not have pity? And Edith declares she is a Socialist because she is a worker. Surely, Wolfe meant to show how insulting that would be to true workers, right? If this is autobiographical, I don't think he cared about keeping friends. Now, I'm done.

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Butterfinger
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#wolferead Up to ch 18 - I have so many thoughts about the party. Wolfe was very clever to remind readers that the Crash would happen shortly after the party. As I read about the characters - Amy, Hirsch, Piggy Logan, I get a sick feeling. Who will survive? Even the crazy scene of Piggy - is it meant to show that they didn't care where their money went? Decadence. Is it true that the rich would invite gay as entertainment -how degrading.

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Butterfinger
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#wolferead Ch 10- I am making a prediction. While reading this chapter how Mr. Jack enjoys his indulgent life, I get the feeling he will fall greatly in the Stock Market Crash that Wolfe very neatly referred.

Lcsmcat I think that is a safe prediction! 3mo
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Lcsmcat
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Ah, if only it had gotten better since 1929. #WolfeRead

Leftcoastzen Glad you are liking it , I should join in with a re read , so backed up.It‘s funny what Max Perkins went through with him.He was very analytical and wordy.Max (paraphrasing of course )said Hemingway manuscripts were ready ,Fitzgerald, he needed to correct spelling.With Wolfe , they battled over length. 3mo
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Lcsmcat
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The chapters Jack at Morn and Mrs. Jack Awake are quite a shift from previous chapters. The minutiae of his morning routine, the quicksilver changes of mood and wordless conversation between her and her maid Nora. I‘m ready to have George back, please. #wolferead (random picture from the internet to represent Mr. & Mrs. Jack.)

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Butterfinger
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#wolferead Ch 6-7 Aunt Maw's funeral and real estate - I've known so many people like Mrs. Flood. Nosy, knows everything about everyone. I hate how he found about his father wanting his mom buried in his plot and his uncle exhuming her because of a stupid grudge. What is with Appalachia and grudges (Hatfield and McCoy)? How awful would it be to hear such a sordid tale about his mother's exhuming? Nosy people can also be rude.

Lcsmcat What about bringing up “the scandal” during the eulogy! No wonder he wanted to leave! 3mo
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Butterfinger
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#wolferead

Ch 5 I dislike the judge immensely. I'm torn over Wolfe's feelings. He clearly thinks people are being used, but he still uses racist words. It makes me think of my childhood. My parents acted like it was a regular word and then say they weren't racist. I know it's the period and the society, at this time, deemed it okay, but it is not okay. I hope the Judge won't be a major character, but I have a feeling he is.

Lcsmcat Did you see him as a prophetic voice at all? The trope of the blind seer? 3mo
Butterfinger @Lcsmcat Maybe, the judge did ask George if he thought he could go home again and then said, "don't forget I tried to warn you." At the time and during his aunt's funeral, George was thinking how Libya Hill's changes might be what the judge was alluding to. It is not just the city who changes, but his family, his friends, even his past. Good question. 3mo
Butterfinger @Lcsmcat I had to ask my husband about the trope question. I think the judge is similar to Hauser- they both know how fortunes can change on a dime. I like how the other people on the train we're terrified of the judge as "his blind eyes saw straight through them." 3mo
Lcsmcat @Butterfinger That quote is part of why I thought he might be a prophetic voice. 3mo
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Butterfinger

"Their souls we're like the visages of city streets." Ch 4 #wolferead

I liked how Wolfe described NYC's workers. Delivery drivers.

"Each day they faced the perils of the streets with hearts as calm as if they were alone upon a country road."

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Lcsmcat
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I‘ve finished Book 1 (about 125 pages) and there‘s no puzzling over where the title came from. He made that very clear. 😆 #wolferead

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SharonGoforth
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Joining in with @Lcsmcat and others for the #WolfeRead of You Can‘t Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe. This is my first time to read Wolfe. I had no idea he died at such a young age (37) and that this book wasn‘t published until after his death. I found this collection of Wolfe‘s works on my Kindle.

Lcsmcat This is my first Wolfe too. 3mo
Butterfinger @SharonGoforth Mine also and I'm ashamed to say that I may be overwhelmed by some of the wording. Brilliant writing from classics go over my head. But, I still want to pursue classics. 3mo
SharonGoforth @Butterfinger He‘s definitely wordy (and I‘ve only read the first chapter). Hopefully I‘ll be able to get past the racist remarks. But the story sounds intriguing, and I think it‘s interesting that he opened the book the way he did, about his lover. 3mo
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Butterfinger
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Check 2-3

I liked how Wolfe showed a young author's insecurities about meeting a publisher for the first time. The book is like a child, already perfect.

But I don't understand Hauser. Why would he go back and forth - not worth publishing then a work of genius? What made him less inclined to share your honest opinion.

Katamoto was such a delightful character. "Trampling." I wish there was more. What was the purpose of this chapter?

Lcsmcat I felt Hauser‘s saying it wasn‘t publishable was more a judgement on the publishing industry and the type of books they approved of than a jugement on Webber‘s book. 3mo
Lcsmcat I wonder too if Katamoto‘s importance will be made clear later, or if he was just a bit of color. 3mo
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Butterfinger
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Cringe worthy or brilliant? Webber compares his love affair to Esther to Goethe's drunken man on horseback - reeling, but going somewhere. They are clearly not suited and he wants to keep his bachelor pad to himself, but is happy. ??? Is Esther equally happy? I think she is a cougar and he likes pursuing an older, richer woman.

This book will force us to think. #wolferead @Lcsmcat

Lcsmcat Indeed! There‘s a lot in these first 50 pages that wouldn‘t fly today. 3mo
6 likes1 comment
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Butterfinger

I've been wanting to visit Wolfe's home for awhile now. I think I will after I finish reading. I never knew that he was so well known that he was read by Hemingway and Faulkner. I thought it was funny that in the introduction, Gail Godwin wrote it is natural to go back and forth liking and not liking (my words) and I find it to be true. I find I'm cringing then appreciating. #wolferead @Lcsmcat

Lcsmcat He was very well known, and Look Homeward Angel angered the people of Asheville so much that he “couldn‘t go home again.” 3mo
Butterfinger I know that feeling. I think the native people of western NC are still that way. Easily offended and will hold petty grudges. I live one county east of Buncombe and was raised three counties over. 3mo
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Lcsmcat @Butterfinger I know! I grew up in Greensboro and they didn‘t teach his work in the schools as late as the 70s. So where do you live now? I‘m in Wake County. 3mo
Butterfinger @Lcsmcat McDowell. My plan is to read about 150 pages a week, but post only 1or 2 chapters a day. And there is a lot that takes me to a time of ugly racist memories. 3mo
Lcsmcat @Butterfinger That‘s such a pretty part of the state! There is a lot that wouldn‘t fly now, and you have to take him as of his time. But he‘s also an equal opportunity offender. So far he‘s insulted Jews, Greeks, Italians, Irish, Japanese, African Americans, women, and probably others that I‘ve left out! 3mo
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LitsyHappenings
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Repost for @Lcsmcat :
Join us for the #WolfeRead of You Can‘t Go Home Again. Very casual. Some of us are starting this weekend. Read at your own pace; comment on whatever catches your attention.

Lcsmcat Thanks for the repost! 3mo
kalinichta That cover. 💛 3mo
Dragonfairykats The ebook is $0.99 on Amazon US! 3mo
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Lcsmcat
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“And the were sure and certain, forever wrong, but always confident.”
Such a perfect description of 20-something men. #WolfeRead @Butterfinger

Butterfinger Some things never change. 3mo
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Lcsmcat
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Join us for the #WolfeRead of You Can‘t Go Home Again. Very casual. Some of us are starting this weekend. Read at your own pace; comment on whatever catches your attention. @LitsyHappenings

Dragonfairykats I'm so confused! The book profile in Litsy is totally different than the one in Amazon... 3mo
Lcsmcat @Dragonfairykats The blurb here is wrong. I‘m not sure how to get it fixed. @timspalding ? 3mo
Dragonfairykats @Lcsmcat I'm loving the excerpt on Amazon! Also, the book is $0.99 on Amazon US 3mo
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KarmonR Wolfe always makes me feel as if I don‘t have enough life experience to truly understand all the subtleties of his texts - no matter how old it get! 3mo
Lcsmcat @Dragonfairykats Join us! It‘s a very casual buddy read. Read at your own pace, comment at will. 3mo
Lcsmcat @KarmonR I‘m embarrassed to say that this is my first Wolfe. I‘m loving it, but he has managed to insult just about every group possible in the first 50 pages. 😀 3mo
Dragonfairykats @Lcsmcat I think I will! 3mo
Lcsmcat @Dragonfairykats 👏🏻👏🏻 3mo
SharonGoforth @Lcsmcat Started reading it today! 3mo
TimSpalding @Lcsmcat No way at the moment, unfortunately. 3mo
Lcsmcat @TimSpalding Oh well. Thanks for letting me know. 3mo
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Butterfinger
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I have my copy. When and how do we start @Lcsmcat I didn't know it was a chunkster. 😊

Lcsmcat We can start this weekend if you like. I‘m envisioning something casual. No schedule of how many chapters each week or anything. Just post your insights, questions, eye-rolls, quotes, or whatever catches your attention . 😀 3mo
Lcsmcat Let‘s use the hashtag #WolfeRead to mark our posts so we can find them. 3mo
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Lcsmcat
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Any interest in a buddy read of this book? As a native North Carolinian I‘m ashamed to say I haven‘t read it yet. I‘m thinking something very informal, like #magicmountain and #myvodkabromance were, and starting in September? Give me a holler if you‘re interested.

Butterfinger I'm interested. 4mo
Butterfinger @Lcsmcat I ordered my book for September. 3mo
Lcsmcat Excellent! Let me know when it arrives. 3mo
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Leftcoastzen
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📚You Can‘t Go Home Again
✍️Richard Yates
📽Young Frankenstein
📺Younger(So cute, woman in her 40s stopped working to raise daughter,can‘t get a job in publishing, pretends to be 26.)
Yellow squash
#manicmonday #letterY

JoScho 💜💜💜 11mo
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8leagueboot
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My Obvious State quote calendar knows what's up this month (and every month).

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bluestalking
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Esther glanced at George and saw his face grow twisted as he looked. He wanted to say to her that we are all savage, foolish, violent, and mistaken; that full of our fear and confusion, we walk in ignorance upon the living and beautiful earth, breathing young, vital air and bathing in the light of morning, seeing it not because of the murder in our hearts.