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Set at a university in the deep South, Hyman And Hymenoptera explores the return South of Hyman Glover, a southern-born, half-Jewish, Yale-educated entomologist of once great promise. Glover's obsession with his own southern heritage and his growing fear of insects has caused him to fall into a kind of intellectual madness (he writes articles which interpret human behavior in terms of insects—e.g. "Molting and the Vulnerable Self"—and at moments of trauma spontaneously adopts a backwoods southern accent). Other characters in this excerpt are Mrs. Boon, Glover's landlady and President of the Pickens County Literary Conclave, and Joel Kaplan, Glover's friend, a New Yorker and complete ironist who has lost his job as a teaching psychologist because he has perversely adopted a therapeutic technique based on the Medieval theory of humours. Robert Reeves' novel, Doubting Thomas, will be published by Crown early in 1985. EROTIC GEOGRAPHY / Robert Reeves //""? HERE'S A TOUCH of spring in the air!" Mrs. Boon cried to J. Glover as she got out of the Volvo. "And it looks like everyone is here!" Beneath a luminous blue sky, cars and pickups filled the gravel parking lot of Jefferson Davis Junior High. The building, prefabricated and assembled on site, was only seven years old, yet it already looked rundown and wornout. The contractors had met a tight budget by sacrificing a concrete foundation. The baseboards were flush with the ground, and the exposed wood had become infested with termites. The structure was one story—"ranch-style" said Mrs. Boon—in the shape of an "L." It sat in a once grassy clearing now deadened by the feet of children. With its yellowed paint and yard of dirt, Glover thought the school had the appearance of a dull sore in the midst of a red infection. Mrs. Boon took Glover's arm as they crossed the parking lot. She was quiet for a moment, then looked at him uncertainly. "Your friend, Mr. Kaplan, is going to be here for your lecture." "How did he—" Glover stopped, not really interested in how Kaplan knew. He was too busy concentrating, steeling himself, preparing for the task at hand. The lecture, he.imagined, was like a shard of metal that his mind had honed to a fine scalpel's edge. He would wield the scalpel with great skill and delicacy, slicing away the fat of illusion that gripped the hearts of these country folk, slicing and slicing until he exposed the bright truth that pulsed within them. When they saw this truth, they would forget the pain he caused them. They would understand that the pain was necessary for healing. "It was my little secret," Mrs. Boon continued. "Mr. Kaplan is such a nice man. I thought I'd surprise you." Two weeks earlier Mrs. Boon had invited Kaplan to the anniversary lecture, not so much to surprise Glover, but to keep Glover from surprising her. She had called Kaplan when she found a second wall in Glover's apartment ruined with paint. This time he had not painted a face, but something that looked to her like a gigantic horsecollar, all wet looking and covered with black hairs. In the center of the horsecollar he had attached to the wall a wasp nest—not a painted one, but a real one, so large that at first she hadn't been sure what it was. And beneath all of this he had printed the lunatic words: Hymen and Hymenoptera. She had found Kaplan's telephone number in an appointment book in Glover's desk. Kaplan had answered the phone in a mechanical voice, but once she explained who she was, he greeted her enthusiastically. "Of course I remember! How might I help you?" The Missouri Review -229 When she mentioned the horsecollar, there was a muffled sound on the line. "Excuse me," he said finally, clearing his throat. "Yes, well, I shouldn't be too concerned. I'm sure Mr. Glover has his reasons. Perhaps he feels confined by the canvas; perhaps a mural is required. As you may know, he has been under a strain of late. He's going through a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 128-138
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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