DO GOOD by William Sayres


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William Sayres is a social anthropologist and was a lecturer for Peace Corps volunteers headed for Colombia, S.A. In Do Good he incorporates his experiences in a small village called Melita into a novel that is amusing without resorting to ridicule and is serious without being solemn. The anthropologist and narrator of the story has come to Melita merely to observe and in this capacity he has been accepted by the local people most of whom seem to have a surprising if not unlikely penchant for the philosophical statement. Melita has its cast of ""characters"" though the author is not so unsophisticated as to label them ""picturesque."" Among them is Sebastian, the Communist poster maker, whose faces are copied from back issues of Mad Magazine so that his heroes, the peasants, the guerrilla leaders, bear Mad's caricatured features of Nelson Rockefeller, Henry Luce and Princess Margaret. Into the climate of Melita's fatalistic backwardness comes Peter Bradley, a fervent young man who was rejected by the Peace Corps as being too intense. He is in Melita partly for self-discovery and the people mean as much to him as he comes to mean to them. It turns out that he has more in common with St. Francis of Assisi than with a career-minded do-gooder. This proves unsettling to the narrator but not in a way with which the reader can't sympathize. There are morals to the story but William Sayres is skillful enough to have us enjoy the lesson.

Pub Date: July 21st, 1966
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston