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Joseph McElroy: Hind’s Kidnap: A Pastoral on Familiar Airs

Four-year old Hershey Laurel is kidnapped from his rural home, apparently without reason. There is no ransom note and there are no clues as to where he is or why he was kidnapped. Seven years later, Jack Hind, six foot seven inches tall, becomes obsessed with the kidnapping. Of course, McElroy’s theme is once again how he try to make sense out of random clues. We – and Hind – try to take bits of information and form them into a pattern which may not be, almost certainly is not there. He sees everyone and everything as clues. His search is not entirely random, otherwise the novel would be completely pointless. He does uncover some real clues but he is, of course, not able to clearly distinguish between the real ones and the false ones. He makes connections that are not there – Laura/Laurel, Hershey chocolate bars/Hershey Laurel. His life is messed up – his wife leaves him, for example – but still he goes on, round and round, down and down. Don’t end it is the final message.

Publishing history

First published 1969 by Harper & Row