The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

29 January 2006

Long walks on the beach, my eye

Kathleen Fasanella pulls from her vintage book collection an odd little 1945 tome by Thomas Horton called What Men Don't Like About Women, and I suppose, judging from her description, it could just as easily have been titled Are Women Necessary?

With the war on, I don't know how he got it published although he does write excruciatingly well. He's also vitriolic, contemptuous, misogynistic and contradictory; the only women he thinks are of any value are prostitutes. For some reason, he likes prostitutes, considering them to be virtuous gems of femininity.

There's an article by Horton under the same title in the July 1939 Esquire, which suggests to me that he put out a couple thousand words, was thrilled to see them in print, and thus spent the next six years, four of them possibly in uniform, thinking of ten or twenty thousand more. Here's a sample from the book:

Occasionally life gets so complicated that the only refuge seems to be a walk — in the park, on the sea shore, or just in the street. When a man gets into his funk, eternal romantic that he is, he often picks for his companion a woman — to his boundless regret. The fact is that it is absolutely impossible to have a pleasant time walking with a woman. She will stop at store windows, she will chatter about her bowel movements, she will relate the sad tale of what her nephew said last Thursday to her uncle from Poughkeepsie, she will orate on the value of women getting together to reduce the price of fur coats for working girls, and so on — when all the man wants is the mere presence of a silent sympathizer. The result of such a walk, of course, is that the man returns home in lower spirits than before — and determined never to see that chatterbox again.

Truth be told, were I a girl, I don't think I'd hang around this guy either; I mean, he just stands there and doesn't say a word.

Posted at 9:40 AM to Table for One

Sounds like he needed a dog.

Posted by: Babs at 11:14 AM on 29 January 2006

Why do I get the feeling more than one individual had at some time or another contemplated writing something they could have titled, What This Woman Doesn't Like About Thomas Horton..?

Posted by: McGehee at 1:13 PM on 30 January 2006

He should be grateful he didn't surface sixty years later; God knows how he'd react to being the subject of blog posts by his aggrieved ex-girlfriends.

Posted by: CGHill at 1:22 PM on 30 January 2006

There's a new excerpt up, and it's a shade nastier than the first:

Since women generally read reviews of books rather than books, since they love the salacious so much and since the larger problems of living concern them so little, they are perforce the worst critics in creation. In the entire history of the world no woman has been a good literary critic, even in the privacy of her home. If she has ever uttered a single original thought, a brief investigation will reveal that she borrowed it from a man. If a woman says she likes a book, the chances are that all she means is that she saw a picture of the author and likes the shape of his mouth or the cut of his mustache.... Women are especially deficient as critics of political and economic books, for they are by biology, training and instinct extremely conservative animals. They would rather let well enough alone. They seldom dream of Utopia. The only dream that really makes sense to them is that in which all men, writers, composers, politicians, gangsters, dictators and street cleaners adore them.

Makes you wonder if Betty Friedan held out just long enough to make sure this guy was dead.

Posted by: CGHill at 7:01 PM on 5 February 2006