by Dave Carew
Former Tennessean book reviewer Roy E. Perry is—far and away—the best-read person I have ever met. Now 76 years old and a year into his retirement, Mr. Perry tackles more books in a month than most of us do in a year.
Recently, he fulfilled a long-standing dream by reading that behemoth of American literature (all 1,037 pages of it), Gone with the Wind. Here are some of Mr. Perry’s observations about the work, sent recently to friends in an e-mail:
“GWTW is a thoroughly fascinating, enjoyable work of fiction—and, surprisingly, a much better work than I had expected. On the penultimate page of the novel one reads, ‘[Scarlett] had never understood either of the men she had loved and so she had lost them both. Now, she had a fumbling knowledge that, had she ever understood Ashley, she would never have loved him; had she ever understood Rhett, she would never have lost him. She wondered forlornly if she had ever really understood anyone in the world.
“In many respects, Scarlett O’Hara was an eminently pragmatic, practical woman—possessing loads of common sense and amazing survival skills. And yet, in other respects, she was like a child, living in a fantasy world, unable to perceive that her romantic obsessions with Ashley Wilkes would, and could, never be realized.
“Scarlett is the real heroine, and anti-heroine, of this novel. At times we are moved to sympathize with her and pull for her as she struggles against a hostile world. At other times, we marvel at how slow she is to recognize the weakness and/or strengths of the people whom she encounters—thereby causing us to feel pity, mixed with contempt, for her . . . .
“We praise Scarlett’s strenuous efforts to provide food, shelter, and clothing not only for herself, but also for those depending on her. In the end, however, we feel sorry for her, and sigh because of her obstinate, headstrong blindness, which leads to the loss of everyone she loves.
“And yet … and yet … Scarlett still has her beautiful antebellum mansion, Tara, and the very last words of the novel imply that she remains a survivor: ‘After all, tomorrow is another day.’”
David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising/marketing/public relations writer.
Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit Lambscroft.org. Please also consider coming to ParkLife, the benefit concert for Lambscroft, to be held in Sevier Park in 12South on a Saturday in August or September (date TBA soon). Thank you.
Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”