Weep For Me

Weep For Me was one of MacDonald’s earliest novels and one of four he published in 1951. Reportedly, it was also one he regretted putting out and requested it not be republished, thinking it was too much an imitation of Cain’s work.

The primary protagonist in the story is a mild-mannered bank clerk, Kyle Cameron, due to be married soon to his childhood sweetheart JoAnne after six frustrating years of not “going all the way.” Kyle’s the type of ordinary guy who often has a moment in these stories where he busts out of his humdrum existence before the walls of marriage and fatherhood start closing in.

Here, that moment arrives in the form of Emily, whose callous and aloof manner dazzled Kyle. She tells him that he can’t have her ever because she once had a fortune and wants one again and humdrum Kyle can’t provide what she wants. The thing is though if he ever to embezzle a huge sum from the bank where they both work, that might do the trick for her. And suddenly Kyle who has never done anything out of the blue in his whole life is willing to throw it all away for some tiny little promises from a woman he should never trust.

The theft is meticulously planned as is their getaway, but what the story is really about is their twisted relationship, which ebbs and floes from hypnotic enchantment to sadomasochistic domination. They admit there’s no great love between them and Kyle, like every sap before him, can’t stop the compulsion to do as she says despite all evidence she will turn on him when she’s ready. Indeed, the only thing that keeps her bound to him at all is his willingness to steal for her and his readiness to slap her around when he loses control.

The story of their getaway alternates between the growing distrust Kyle has of Emily and the realization that he can never fully count on her and a treacherous landscape where everyone they meet is out to take advantage of them. Kyle’s not necessarily a good guy. In fact, he’s a lot less likable than most poor saps and does things in explosive anger that a truly decent guy caught in a trap wouldn’t do.

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