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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Handy Helper: Henry's Hand by Ross McDonald

SOME OF US START OUT WHOLE AND STAY THAT WAY.

HENRY WAS A BITS AND PIECES KIND OF GUY.

ONCE ONE OF HIS EYES ROLLED UNDER THE COUCH AND WOULDN'T COME OUT UNTIL BEDTIME.

After forgetfully leaving his right leg behind in bed one day, Henry is forced to recite a little rhyme to take inventory every morning:

SOME ORGANS AND GLANDS,

TWO VERY NICE HANDS.....

Franken-clone Henry is reasonably attached to all his parts, but his favorite is his right hand.

His right hand is very.... handy!

Henry cultivates his inner couch potato persona while his hand does all the work.  Hand does the chores while Henry snores.  Hand fetches the mail, finger-walking down the walk and across the road to the mailbox. He ever functions  handily as a remote, changing channels for the recumbent Henry. Finally, feeling used, Hand revolts, and before he and Henry go mano a mano, he takes himself on the lam, letting his fingers walk him all the way to the big city.

In town, Hand is enjoying his freedom from manual labor, until he sees a truck bearing down on a hapless man strolling across the street. Quickly, Hand yanks the pedestrian out of the way and a passing reporter manages to snap a photo of the heroic deed.

HERO HAND! screams the headlines.

Soon Hand is a celebrity and he finds himself living in luxury with a staff handy to do everything for him.

HAND DIDN'T HAVE TO LIFT A FINGER!

But back in the country, Henry finds himself a bit short-handed at the chores. And he misses Hand, their intense one-handed marble matches, and his companion in bird-watching.

And meanwhile, in the city, time is hanging heavy on Hand's hand. He is bored and feeling empty-handed as he mopes on the window sill watching a bluebird trying to build her nest in the breeze from the passing trucks. Then his secretary brings in a letter, simply addressed to Hand, City.

Hand decides it time to make amends, to renew his attachment to Henry, in Ross MacDonald's latest, Henry's Hand (Abrams, 2013), and back home he finds Henry seriously in need of a helping hand. There's a bit of clever visual humor throughout in MacDonald's pleasingly art deco illustrations, ending in tidy little surprise ending that pulls the story's, er, loose pieces together as Henry and his missing part go off to visit the bluebird hand-in-hand. "All the parts are in place, as it were, and MacDonald sets them in motion in a mock melodramatic plot that wraps up with a reunion worthy of applause—with both hands," says Publishes Weekly.

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1 Comments:

  • A different kind of example of how some consistent themes flow through Macdonald’s novels might be gotten from a brief comparison between passages from The Moving Target, the first Archer novel, and The Drowning Pool. These clips all seem to have come out of the same notebook, which is a fairly common occurrence in the early novels of highly talented novelists. In The Moving Target Archer observes of Miranda “Her light-brown coat fell open in front, and her small sweatered breasts, pointed like weapons, were half impatient promise, half gradual threat.
    http://postmoderndeconstructionmadhouse.blogspot.com/2014/11/ross-macdonald-drowning-pool.html#.VGiE3jTF_xA

    By Blogger Elizabeth, at 9:53 AM  

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