He scraped through the dark sand to the center house, two stories, both pouring bands of light into the fog. There was warmth and gaiety within, through the downstairs window he could see young people gathered around a piano, their singing mocking the forces abroad on this cruel night. She was there, proptected by happiness and song and the good. He was separated from her only by a sand yard and a dark fence, by a lighted window and by her protectors. He stood there until he was trembling with pity and rage. Then he fled, but his flight was slow as the flight in a dream, impeded by the deep sand and the blurring hands of the fog. He fled from the goodness of that home, and his hatred for Laurel throttled his brain. If she had come back to him, he would not be shut out, an outcast in a strange, cold world.
... family men, Claude.""Then why aren't they home with their families?""You haven't been listening to me, Claude. It takes lots of honey to raise a family these days..." No, it isn't even that, these teddy bears don't like honey as much as they think they do. They think they're supposed to like it, the way they're supposed to like women and children. They think they're supposed to act like real grizzlies, but they don't feel it. You can't blame them, they just don't have it inside them. What they have, what they love most, is their memories: how the Coach used to shout niceworkpal whenever they caught the big ball or somehow hit the little one, how Dad used to wink when they caught one of his jokes, how when they repeated them he almost died laughing, so they told them and told them - if they told one really well he might do it. They memorized all the conversations verbatim, that about the pussies and the coons, the homers and the balls, the cams and the bearings. They're still memorizing. You can see them almost anytime you're out driving, there in the slow car just ahead, the young man at the wheel, the old man talking, the young man leaning a little to the right in order to hear better, the old man pointing out the properties, the young man looking and listening earnestly, straining to catch the old man's last word, the last joke verbatim, the last bit of know-how about the deals and the properties and the honey. When he thinks he's learned all he can from the old man, he'll shove him out of the car. You watch, next time you're out driving. "...these are the cream, Claude." These are the all-American fairies.
The key to understnading masculinity is Jesus Christ. Jesus was tough with religious blockheads, false teachers, the proud, and bullies. Jesus was tender with women, children, and those who were suffering or humble. Additionally, Jesus took responsability for Himself. He worked a jon for the first thirty years of His life, swinging a hammer as a carpenter. He also took responsability for us on the cross, where He substituted Himself and died in our place for our sins. My sins are my fault, not Jesus'fault, but Jesus has made them His responsability. This is the essence of the gospel, the "good news". If you understand this, it will change how you view masculinity.
I do not like the killers, and the killing bravely and well crap. I do not like the bully boys, the Teddy Roosevelt’s, the Hemingways, the Ruarks. They are merely slightly more sophisticated versions of the New Jersey file clerks who swarm into the Adirondacks in the fall, in red cap, beard stubble and taut hero’s grin, talking out of the side of their mouths, exuding fumes of bourbon, come to slay the ferocious white-tailed deer. It is the search for balls. A man should have one chance to bring something down. He should have his shot at something, a shining running something, and see it come a-tumbling down, all mucus and steaming blood stench and gouted excrement, the eyes going dull during the final muscle spasms. And if he is, in all parts and purposes, a man, he will file that away as a part of his process of growth and life and eventual death. And if he is perpetually, hopelessly a boy, he will lust to go do it again, with a bigger beast.
Confession time: I doubt I would ever have picked up one of Marjorie’s books, had I not met her in person. The reason is they’re categorized as Romances, which is where they are shelved in bookstores. Though I have no justification for avoiding it, the romance section is an area in bookstores I seldom wander into. Her novels also have traditional-looking romance book covers, which are occasionally a bit off-putting to us mighty manly men. Then again, who knows? I don’t carry many biases where good storytelling is concerned. I’m willing to find it anywhere, as too many of my friends will attest, when I try to drag them to wonderful movies that they aren’t eager to go to, simply because they fall under the chick-flick rubric. So, in any case, I’m glad I did meet Marjorie Liu in person, because it would have been a shame to miss out on the work of an author this talented due to whatever degree of cultural prejudices I might still possess. I trust you who read this won’t make the same mistake.