THE SCARECROW MAN by Christopher Bray


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This British Christmas fable for-the-times waylays two derelicts in their mid-winter solstice of communion with their respective saviors. Gonlag--toothless and self-contained--is attuned to the roars of Surzo, a subterranean deity who announces from time to time, in a stage-Brooklyn accent, that ""he won't take much more!"" Joining Gonlag on his shivering observation post in a plaza fronting Hyde Park, is Mason, happily nearsighted, who is possessed of a vision of his own apocalypse in the form of the Scarecrow Man, a humble and welcoming figure gentle with love. Gonlag and Mason, only intermittently involved in the techniques of winter survival, contemplate Christmas and their respective epiphanies with rising excitement--Gonlag will paint Surzo's warning on a prominent public building; Mason will announce the Scarecrow Man from a Christmas pulpit. Before the moving fingers of Gonlag write, and before Mason's Call, the seedy two share some cheer. Both have ritualistic baths and possess women; both help to push a shuddering piano hilarious with laughter through dark streets. Mason dies, Gonlag weeps, but is comforted by the thought of Surzo walking country lanes with his cigar in Scarecrow country. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in a tender and meaningful Chaplinesque.

Pub Date: Dec. 25th, 1968
Publisher: Viking