THE HANDS OF ESAU by Hiram Haydn


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A searching and disturbingly revealing portrait of a man, which on some levels recalls Cozzens' By Love Possessed in its ruthless uncovering of three generations, stripped to the bare bones of motivation, shorn of the overlay of civilization's trappings. It is a complex jigsaw puzzle -- and even at the close some pieces are missing, and some perhaps enlarged to greater than lifesize, which now and again leaves an impression of distortion and imbalance. And yet the reader is held spellbound as Walton Herrick, whose story it is, lives out the testing summer of 1953 on several levels- his own present in which his search for himself is continually betrayed by facets of that self; his own past, caught in the trammels of a possessive mother, a crippled father, a desperate need for appreciation, adulation- and his own version of understanding; and the many faceted genealogy, the parents, the grandparents, whose genes blended to form his own dual personality, inwardly, outwardly at war. Magnetic, able, brilliant, he would seem to be at the summit of his powers. But beneath the surface, he is insecure, driven by passions, by scarcely controlled angers, by an unwillingness to see himself put in the wrong on any level. His third marriage is threatened; his key post in the Foundation he had helped to build is attacked; his human relations in many areas of his life are on the verge of wreckage. And yet in his self- analysis all the warring factors combine to help destroy the self-knowledge he gropingly approaches. Here is a book that will shock in its brutal frankness, in some of its meticulously detailed sexual scenes. Here is a book that will fascinate even as it repels the reader. Here finally is a book which will make many readers take a second look at their own and what lies behind. Hiram Haydn is a gifted editor. One pauses to wonder how he might have handled this manuscript had it come to him from another's hand. Watch this it may prove as controversial as the Cozzens' book. The writing makes for easier reading. The psychological penetration is centered on one man rather than on social issues. But this is its potential market.

Pub Date: June 6th, 1962
ISBN: 116937669X
Publisher: Harper