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Posted: November 20, 2019

Suitable read for those who understand the academic mind

Book Review

By Derryll White

Cross, Amanda (1964).  In the Last Analysis.

“To what purpose, April, do you return again?”  — Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Kate Fansler makes her debut in this novel, an erudite American professor of literature.  This is billed as “the American intellectual crime novel.”  There is something soft, slow and easy about reading this work from the mid-1960s. Like Larry McMurtry’s ‘Moving On’ the characters are relaxed and America is at rest, just prior to the explosion of Vietnam. It is a feeling many readers will longingly remember.

‘In the Last Analysis’ is a treatise on many things: truth, psychiatry, trust. Love.  Perhaps most of all it is a study of corruption.  That is, a look at the way our judgement, words and values are crumbled and broken by outside forces.  Kate Fansler astutely takes apart higher education by looking at the insidious invading forces of bureaucracy.  Amanda Cross looks hard at love and what the mitigating factors are that might destroy it.  Kate’s soon to be in-law, Jerry, exposes Madison Avenue and marketing as perhaps the most corrosive blight to ever infect America (kind of a real time ‘Mad Men’).

And amongst all that Kate Fansler searches for a murderer. Through D.H. Lawrence, Wallace Stevens, Henry James and other notable authors Professor Fansler drafts a fantasy of murder that in the end leads to the killer.  This is definitely a suitable read for lovers of literature and those who understand the academic mind.

****

Excerpts from the novel:

DETECTIVES – She regarded the detective with interest.  An avid reader of detective stories, she had always suspected that in real life detectives were desperately ordinary men, the sort who coped but were annoyed by complex ideas, literary or otherwise, the sort who liked the hardness of facts and found the need for ambivalence distasteful.

RELATIONSHIP – The support which she and Emanuel had found in each other in the year following their meeting grew from a relationship for which the English language itself lacked a defining word.  Not a friendship, because they were man and woman, not a love affair, because theirs was far more a meeting of minds than of passion, their relationship (an inexact and lifeless term) had given each a vantage point from which to view his life, had given them for a time the gift of laughter and intense discussion whose confidence would be held forever inviolable.  They had been lovers for a time – they had no one but themselves to consider – yet this had been far from central to their mutual need.  After that first year, they would no more have considered making love than of opening a mink ranch together, yet were there more than a handful of people in the world who could have understood this?

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.


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