13 mai 2015

ENG - Blind Man with a Pistol: manufacturing secrets

Blind Man With a Pistol has confused many readers, even some of the more capable ones. Drawing on Grave Digger’s remark in the novel “So much nonsense must make sense”, I have looked for a design on the part of the author and for a pattern of incoherence. And I have found it: in Blind Man With a Pistol, Himes has set up a perfect and perverse strategy of confusion. Three stories make up Blind Man. I presume that Himes used some existing but still unpublished material: fragments of unfinished novels, or short stories. In 1969, Himes was ill and too exhausted to complete a novel.
Let’s call the three stories, of unequal size, A, B, and C.
Story A (8 chapters): three converging antagonist parades result in riots and looting in Harlem.
Story B (7 chapters): a white man is killed in the basement of a building in Harlem. It is the first of a series of homosexual killings.
Story C (3 chapters): during Mr Sam’s (a frontman for the organized crime syndicate) rejuvenation pitch, four people are murdered.
These three stories are ordered according to a very simple principle:
1st chapter of Story A, 1st chapter of Story B, 1st chapter of Story C;
2nd chapter of Story A, etc.
Drawing on this general basis, Himes introduced other elements inducing confusion, such as threads between the stories or wrong tracks. The table below gives an example of chronological disorder and incoherence between Stories A and C.

Chapter 18

Chapter 11

Chapter 8

Lt. Anderson discharges Coffin Ed and Grave Digger of their previous mission (about the rejuvenation pitch murders) and charges them to investigate on the origin of the riots.
Lt. Anderson’s superior officer, Capt. Brice, confirms the order, in spite of the two detectives’ reluctance.
Grave Digger refers retrospectively to the mission.

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