Honorable

I’m reluctant to tell you about this because it’s no credit to anyone, but it isn’t fair to pretend insight comes easily. You know that scene in Philadelphia Story where Mike is explaining to Tracy why he didn’t have sex with her when they were drunk? “But you also were a little the worse — or the better — for wine, and there are rules about that.” There are rules about that. There are rules about theft and misrepresentation. There’s a lot of grey in the application of morality, in our treatment of one another. There are ancient rules about the way you behave when you are a guest in someone’s home.

So, when this douchebag decided to interrupt a conversation among friends at a garden party, to smirk and impose in his entitled way, it was really all I could do not to break his nose. I could actually see it. The moment I stepped forward, and knocked that drunken grin off his face. He’s probably stronger than I am, but I have 8 inches on him, was sober, and I loathe him. He’s a man without honor. For a moment, I weighed it. The act of hitting him. Could I hit him hard enough to end the exchange with one single blow? Probably. And if I didn’t, would I be willing to strike him again, or be struck in return? Probably. Would Mary be upset? Yes. Would the hosts and other guests be upset? Yes. Would I feel better if I hit him? I suspect not. I suspect I would have been ashamed of myself. I’m not terribly pleased to report how much I wanted to hit him. How firmly I had to turn away to keep from being cruel.

Why? Why did I have to keep from being cruel? After all, he’s a man without honor. But I’m not. And honor is not simple. It’s a choice you make over and over. Who am I to strike him? Justice? Vengeance? When did I take on those mantles? I don’t have to like him. I don’t have to be polite or friendly. But that’s not the same thing as striking him. I am not payback for his crimes. I am not retribution. We have rules to govern our instincts. To remind us we are part of a society. The rules don’t change because I want them to change, because it would serve my agenda to act as I will. In fact, the service of my agenda is the antithesis of honor. I guess I’m glad I didn’t hit him.

1 thought on “Honorable”

  1. It’s a choice we make over and over. And if you think that making it again and again makes it easier each time to choose the honorable thing according to our individual ideas of honor, that would not be right.

    It is tough. Each time.

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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