I am reading Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin to my daughter over my Company enforced use of my Vacation.
I had forgotten about this passage:
"Searching for Someone, do Doubt," the Doctor said to Peter Lake without looking up. "Chances are you won't find him here. If you don't know why, I'll tell you." He spoke as if he were still dictating [details about the dead] , and the appearance of Peter Lake were only another condition to be noted and examined. "These people don't ever have anyone who comes after them. They're the ones who fall through the cracks. Where are their parents, their children, brothers, sisters, friends? They're here, or they were here, or they will be here soon. Do you think that the ones who are still breathing want to get near this place before they have to? You couldn't drag them down here with a windlass. "
When Peter Lake said nothing, it seemed to only spur the doctor on. "Maybe you're from some reform group, and you've come to gather evidence." He glanced back at Peter Lake and concluded from his expression and appearance that he was not. "They come down here to snap pictures. They get a thrill here- that's why they come. They take stupendous joy in the indignation and compassion they feel on account of these mangled stiffs; it's their roller coaster. I know this," he said, making a tragic incision across the abdomen of an adolescent girl, " and I'll tell you why. Since I am here all of the time and take apart fifty of these things a day , I can't feel for each and every one of them. I'm not God. I don't have that much in me. The ladies' aides and the social critics sense immediately that I couldn't give a goddamn about all of this inedible meat , and that's just what they want. They know that they're better than the miserable bastards they try to help but they really enjoy thinking that they are better than the rest of us , who aren't as 'compassionate' as they are. " He turned to Peter Lake again and said, "You notice how often that very word escapes their lips? They use it like a cudgel. Beware."
What he did next, as a matter of routine, made Peter Lake close his eyes in horror. But the Doctor continued, his hands glistening, as if nothing had happened. "They come down here for their own benefit. It's as clear as day that they love it. The great irony and the perfect joke is that the wretches on the bottom of the barrel get these self-serving scum as champions. Some champions! They feed off the poor - first materially , and then in spirit. But they deserve each other in a way, because vice and stupidity were made to go together."
"I know that, you see, because I was poor. But I rose like a rocket, and I know how the whole thing works. The ones who are always on your side, or so they think, are the ones who keep you down. They'll forgive you for anything. Rob, rape, pillage, and kill, and they will defend you to yourself. They understand all outrages, and all of your failings and faults, too. Perfect! You can go on that way forever. What do they care? Excuse me: they do care. They want it that way."
He bent over to make a short cut, as thin as a hair, across the chest of the emaciated blond girl he had just eviscerated. "How would they make a living, these servants of the poor , if there were no poor?"
"what enabled me to rise above all the people who don't know enough to come in out of the rain is that one day I looked face to face at a man who hated half of everything I was and had the courage to tell me so. I remember his very words.He said, 'What you are doing is hideous - a perfect way to die young. Unless you want to live sweetly only in the hereafter, you ought to learn how to do the right thing.' " The doctor stopped what he was doing and dropped his hands to his sides, and looked directly at Peter Lake. "I hate the poor. Look at what they do to themselves. How could you not hate them, unless you thought that they should be like this."
If you haven't read it, and can tolerate a mythical and dreamy tale about Justice and the author's belief that all of the hardship and suffering makes sense in the end , its a pretty wonderful ride. The recent movie was good, but didn't ( and couldn't ) do it justice. You also have to have some tolerance for over wordy descriptions. - 50 cent words shot our of a shotgun sometimes. But then its a book, you can can skip