Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fiery Siringo (1-20)

Well! All I can say is that Glendon should have been a little less cryptic when he told Monte to “stay out of Siringo’s grip”. We should have known the old geezer wasn’t as feeble as he pretended. And yet, even with a bitten hand and a broken finger why wouldn’t Monte just leave him along the side of the road? I knew that over-active sense of duty would come back to bite Monte in the end. If only he could be as cold-hearted as Siringo he could be back home with Susannah by now. But would Susannah want him in that condition or would she cease to see him as Siringo’s wife had?

So now Monte is traveling with Siringo, aiding him in his hot pursuit of Glendon or Hood Roberts or both. Who saw that coming? Certainly not me. I do admire his half-hearted attempts at escape and his refusal to stoop to the tactics of his captor. Unfortunately, Siringo can read Monte like a book. Even when the poor guy manages to convince the bank teller that despite his manacles he is not a fugitive but a kidnapping victim, Siringo is one step ahead of him already signing books and spinning tales with the local law enforcement. At that moment I thought Monte might cry. I felt so sorry for him.

More than dislocating his finger, or biting his hand, or popping his finger back in to place, or breaking his collar bone I think Siringo caused Monte more pain by telling him about his visit to the Davies’ and Emma’s subsequent disappointment in Monte and hurling of his book. I think that crushed Monte’s spirits more than anything else.

Enger seems to be examining the themes of life and death, heaven and hell again. He describes Ern Swilling’s death as his “turn at the infinite”. Then in this section Monte wonders if Siringo…

“…had died already, during the night, and was up anyway, making coffee in the normal fashion, and that I would be compelled for some time to be the companion of a dead fellow who refused to acknowledge his condition.”

Siringo acknowledges the fact himself when he says,

“I was human but now I think I am changing. It’s a change for the better. I can sleep or not as I will. I feel no anger. I am not thirsty. Hot and cold have no purchase on me.”

I agree with Monte that Siringo is describing death. His own death. At least the death of his soul if not his person. I think we’ll see him dead before the end of the novel. At least I hope so…and hopefully before he kills Hood and/or Glendon. Somehow I’m not afraid for Monte. I think he’ll make it home to his wife and son again. Despite his many faults, Siringo won’t harm the innocent. Of course, that’s assuming Monte stays innocent.

I guess I’m glad that Monte didn’t shoot Siringo when he had the chance. At least he was brave enough to fire the gun and give Hood a fair warning. Why am I rooting for the bad guys here? Even though Hood didn’t murder Swilling he still stole a car and food and a horse and a mule. He even burnt down an entire town and killed a man in the process. I have no idea what crime, if any, he was running from in the beginning when he joined up with Monte and Glendon, but I’m almost positive there was one. He is a “bad guy”, and yet I want him to escape cleanly to Mexico with his pretty girlfriend. Well, that is if he didn’t kill Ericcson. If he murdered Ericcson in cold blood than I’m afraid I can’t be on his side anymore.

I still want Glendon to escape though. Maybe it’s because he seems genuinely remorseful for his life of crime. He doesn’t claim that he would do things any differently given the chance, but at least he seems sorry that it turned out this way. He wants to make amends with Blue. He wants to help out Darlys again. (By the way I think it is hilarious that Glendon uses Siringo’s money to pay for Darlys’ trip.) He even wants to go after Hood and prevent him from make some of the same tragic choices that Glendon himself made in younger days. He is a caring and gentle outlaw, that’s for sure.

How nice it would have been if this sentence were true.

“And so it came down to a farmhouse. As it so often does!”

But, it didn’t come down to a farmhouse, after all. Hood escaped…again! I couldn’t have been happier. I like it anytime something happens that Siringo isn’t planning on and doesn’t like. But, of course it couldn’t last. It was so sad and anti-climatic that Hood just walked in to the street and right in to the face of Charles Siringo. Siringo shot him and he died. It was awful. I think the dramatic farmhouse show down would have been better; more appropriate for a romantic boy like Hood.

“Death arrived easy as a train; Hood just climbed aboard, like the capable traveler he was.”

Blanks. Blanks. Of course, it had to be blanks, but I wanted to believe that Siringo was bullet-proof, rather than face the knowledge that Hood had stood no chance from the beginning. How ludicrous that he would go back in to town for a pastry! A cinnamon doughnut? You’ve got to be kidding me. To think that he got killed for a doughnut. What a sad ending for him.

At least Siringo suffers a little bit from his encounter with Hood. He has a stroke, apparently. That's fitting, but I'm sure it won't kill him. At least Monte finally decides to leave him behind. But is he going home or on to find Glendon? East or West? Somehow I don't think he can go home at this point. I'm not sure I would either...knowing Glendon isn't the letter writing type.

I'm anxious to finish the last section "The Rarotongans". What in the world, or who in the world, is a rarotongan? I have no idea, but I'm eager to find out. I'll post my final thoughts on the book tomorrow.

Until then I leave you with me new favorite phrase that I picked up from good old Charlie.

“I think I’ll pass on that bag of snakes.”

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