A. V. LAIDER by Sir Max Beerbohm
“Our mutual aloofness was a positive bond between us.”
An engaging and truly ingenious story of two men (one of them AVL and the other the narrator) — reminding me of the combined dichotomy / synergy in the two men in the Guildea story above — men who spend their time, often staying in the same hotel as a convalescence after influenza. Involving a letter on the hotel’s letter board where the letters are gartered till their recipient finds them there, letters that imagination makes converse with each other about how long they have been gartered there, some letters new, some old, and this particular letter — reminding me of the preternaturally fated letter in the Bowen story above — is from the narrator to AVL, and the repercussions are that they overcome their aloofness again and tap each other’s IMAGINATION as Conan Doyle’s real THINGS when ‘Playing With Fire’ above, thus deploying their DUPLICITY, the contradictions of FATE and FREE WILL, and whether murder is murder or a weakness …. a train journey, a discussion on PALMISTRY and on various hands’ lifelines and the hole in one particular hand’s lifeline, and other such paradoxes of truth, making me wonder which one of these two men had died of influenza, even though I had no evidence to believe that either of them was still alive! Or now dead!
“I suppose you would say it was written in my hand that I should be a believer in free will.”Believe it or not, very soon after reading AVL, I happened to see this post here: https://www.instagram.com/p/COP-p-WFYGL/?igshid=1czhzm6uml0hk
The review’s full context here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/03/25/the-2nd-fontana-book-of-great-ghost-stories/