Transatlantic Blues (Magill's Literary Annual 1979)
Monty né Pendrid) Chatworth, half-English and half-American, is a man with a compulsion to confess, and there are good reasons for his ailment. He has suffered from feelings of guilt ever since, in 1940 at the age of nine, he left England with his parents and his older sister to live in the United States. It seemed to him then that the Chatworths were deserting their country when it was fighting a war for its survival. Why did his father not suffer shame at having fled his homeland in order to fight merely for profits in a mysteriously vague import-export business on the safe side of the Atlantic Ocean? (It was not until later that he discovered the elder Chatworth was in reality serving England, inspecting cargo ships for espionage; by then, though, the harm caused by young Pendrid’s mistaken belief had already been done.)
Chatworth—the name is both symbolic and ironic—is now a famous and outwardly very successful television reporter, commentator, and interviewer whose show has received several Emmies for excellence. Five? Or is it six? he wonders. His voice is the instrument with which he has carved out his fame and earned a great deal of money. “Imagine David Frost and Norman Mailer put together,” he says, trying to describe the voice, “and you still haven’t got it.” Yet he feels that he is a fraud who has used his famous voice to hide from the public the frightened and guilt-ridden real Pendrid Chatworth. A lapsed Catholic, he has...
(The entire section is 1979 words.)
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