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To understand the anguish of the man, see him as a boy. See his drunken father beat him. See his father tell him he’s useless, no good. See his father terrorize the boy’s mother nightly, whacking her so hard he bloodies her forehead. See the boy unable to sleep, hiding under a blanket, crying, worrying.
Now put that boy in grade school in Montreal in the 1950s. He can’t learn. He is too anxious. Too exhausted. He gets his sister or friends to do his homework. He reaches the eighth grade-barely-then drops out.
He can’t read. He can’t write.