‘Dragged Fighting From His Tomb’ by Barry Hannah


Dragged Fighting From His Tomb by Barry Hannah, 1978

The magic trick:

Showing just how pointless it is to look for truth and logic in war

Barry Hannah sure seemed to like Jeb Stuart. Interesting general, but you don’t see many authors writing multiple Civil War fictions starring the Confederate cavalry. Well, really, Jeb is a supporting player here, but nevertheless. Strange.

Anyway, this story crushes any fancy romantic myths Civil War buffs like to conjure. It’s one of the most miserable stories you’ll ever read. It floats by with wonderful words, scintillating sentences and a great sense of surrealistic humor. But you don’t have to pay too close attention to see very quickly it ain’t funny. It’s terrifying.

Our narrator is a philosopher trapped in the body of a Civil War soldier. He seeks beauty and demands truth. The carnage around him provides neither. And that’s quite a trick on Hannah’s part.

The selection:

“Tell me something. Tell me something wise!” I screamed.

“There is no wisdom, Johnny Reb,” the old man said. “There’s only tomorrow if you’re lucky. Don’t kill us. Let us have tomorrow.”

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