Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

I love, love, love Sloan Wilson's "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit." Forever now I've been meaning to link to this excellent New Yorker piece about how much books -- and people -- have changed, how we deal with horrible memories so much differently now than we did then, and how our new way is not necessarily better.

There's a great scene in the book where the main character, Tom Rath, a WW II veteran who saw and did some ugly things in the war finds himself in a NYC elevator being operated by an immigrant who knew him during the war, who knows the truth behind the gray flannel suit. And there's a wonderful bit where he knows that the elevator operator knows, and he thinks about how he can just stand there and not say anything and everything they know will go unsaid, and he will be "just a man in a gray flannel suit." It's truly one of my favorite scenes in all literature, not for anything that happens in it, but for everything that does not.


Lisa Schmeiser said...

What a fascinating article! I especially liked the part where the author asserts that we're all resilient, whether we realize it or not, but the overall insight about the way we embrace long-term trauma was so well-argued. It seems almost Victorian with its preoccupation on morbidity.

Thanks for posting this. I'd have never found it otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I have to echo's Lisa's comments. I found this article interesting and thought provoking--pointing out the differences in how we approach issues, through the lens of literature. What a great article. It makes me want to reread both of the texts cited to work through these differences myself.

Anonymous said...

The link to the New Yorker piece is broken. What was the article's title?

Gael said...

Link works fine for me (wow, two years later).


Getting Over It
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit put the war behind him. Why can’t we?
by Malcolm Gladwell