The Spaces of Violence

The Spaces of Violence

The Spaces of Violence

The Spaces of Violence

Excerpt

One afternoon when I was in high school in Bowie, Texas, I left the Bowie Drug Store, where I had spent an hour or so drinking a Coke and reading James Jones's From Here to Eternity from the paperback books rack, and saw, across the street, on the post office steps, a man step out of a car carrying a rifle. The armed man proceeded to shoot a man who was walking up the post office steps and then drive away. Of course, a crowd immediately gathered around the wounded man, and I had only a glimpse of one blood-stained leg awkwardly sprawled across several steps before my view was completely blocked.

I later learned that the two men had quarreled over the ownership of a tree that grew on the boundary of their adjoining properties and that the wounded man had died. I realized in retrospect that the two were (recreating the dynamic of the movie Westerns and the high school football games I had grown up on; there was, however, nothing heroic about this very real shooting. In fact, football stars and movie cowboys lacked any true relevance to the scene on the post office steps. It was as if the space of Hollywood noir had somehow materialized in front of me, that the savage violence that I had just been reading about in the Jones novel had become most assuredly real. As I have done with virtually everything since, I turned to literature to help me comprehend, to find some defining equation in, all this; and I am probably searching in fiction for the explanation of why one man would in broad daylight fatally shoot another on the steps of a small-town post office. Perhaps my fondness for naturalistic fiction and its affinity for random, senseless violence was born as the dying man tumbled down the concrete post office steps.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.