Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Bonus FFB on Wednesday: The Little Brothers of St. Mortimer -- John Fergus Ryan

The Little Brothers of St. Mortimer is an American classic that nobody seems to know about.  It's darkly comic and hilariously funny, the kind of novel that would result from a collaboration between Flannery O'Connor and Joe R. Lansdale.  If you can imagine such a thing, this is it.  I first read it years ago, and loved it.  Rereading it now, I think it's even better.

Brother Edgar (not his real name) is the founder of the faux religious order of The Little Brothers of St. Mortimer (consider the names here, older readers; whippersnappers won't get it).  He travels around the backwoods South with an ex-con named Morales Pittman, selling men's socks (seconds) and running any number of small cons.  When he saves the life of the White River Kid, a killer on the run, he finds himself linked with both the killer and his girlfriend, Apple Lisa, and this motley crew travels through Arkansas to stay with Apple Lisa's family for a while.  Brother Edgar's never had a real family before and he enjoys his time with Apple Lisa's parents, but the good times don't last for long.  

Here's a bit of Brother Edgar's philosophy:  "I have observed that a man can go all his life never doing anything but good to others and ninety-nine times out of a hundred, he will die broke, unloved, unappreciated, maybe even spat upon by those he helped.  Everything in this life is chance, there is no order, and there is no reward for the good and no punishment for evil."  Maybe not, but there are wildly hilarious novels, and this is one of them.  Highly recommended.


Janis Gore said...

Thank you, sir. I bought this one.

Bud said...

Thanks! Couldn't resist your tie-in with Flannery & Joe.