Thomas H. Cook, “Master of the Delta” (2008)

thomas-h-cook-master-of-the-delta-2008“Jack Branch, teaching high school in his hometown in the Mississippi Delta in 1954, is justifiably proud of his college-prep ‘specialty’ class on the nature of evil. It’s a guts-and-gore attack on the classics–a potent mix of Dante and Melville and Jack the Ripper, delivered with the relish of Suetonius and the pizzazz of a burlesque stripper, and it prods his restless students to think about issues like hatred and intolerance. But this prideful young man, scion of an old aristocratic family who freely admits his sense of noblesse oblige in educating the poor and underprivileged, hasn’t given a thought to the kind of evil he himself can generate by meddling in other people’s lives.” [. . .]    –Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times, July 13, 2008