Tuesday, May 08, 2007


George S on Johnny T

It seems like only yesterday that I wrote my paean to Johnny Tremain--oh, wait, it was. But lo and behold, I got a galley of the new George Saunders essay collection in the mail yesterday afternoon. And as I was flipping through The Braindead Megaphone this morning, I was pleased and astounded to come across another paean to the same book. Apparently Esther Forbes has left her mark on many a young, malleable psyche. Here's Saunders on the scene I briefly mentioned in my own post:
The tragic accident that happens early in the book ends Johnny's silversmithing: his right thumb is melded to the palm of his hand by molten silver. During recess, I started holding my hand like his in the pocket of my coat, trying to get through the entire period without uncrippling myself. There was a sweetness in the bitterness I felt as I imagined that I was Johnny and the whole world had turned against me, even my fiancée, Cilla, and her real-life corollary, Susan Pusateri. Had Susan smiled? She would marry me in spite of my deformity. Was she talking energetically to Joey Cannarozzi? She preferred his fully opposable thumb, and I would therefore have to lay siege to the British armory.
From his description, I can tell that he had the same edition I did ("The cover was a picture of a young Johnny, looking a bit like Twiggie [sic]"). Hats off to you, George S--I'm a bigger fan than ever.

I remember a character named "Dorcas."
Dorcas, if I'm remembering correctly, was one of the two plump sisters that Johnny's master was eager to marry off. One was meaner than the other. But I may have to consult Esther Forbes to find which was which. They were dim lights in Johnny's emotional universe, which revolved around skinny Cilla and the marmoreal figure of Lavinia Lyte.
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