Robert Temple - Author of The Sphinx Mystery

Here I am with my very best friend from schooldays, Alan MacDowell (known either as ‘Mac’ or ‘Shoomac’, which was a private joke between us). Mac and I were students together at St. Andrews School at Sewanee, Tennessee. He was a year ahead of me, and three years older (since I was two years ahead of my age group). We knew each other very closely in New York for the five years after I left St. Andrews. Mac lived in the house of the late Mia Agee, widow of the American writer Jamed Agee, and whenever I visited New York, I always stayed there too. One of the best friends of both of us was The Rev. James Harold Flye, whose name is well known to all students of modern American literature because of the deeply moving book, Letters of James Agee to Father Flye. Mac and I always spent all our time together joking and laughing. He was probably the closest male friend I ever had in my life. I was heartbroken when many years ago he died as a result of getting his pills mixed up one night when he had been drinking. He had been depressed as a result of his wife leaving him, and also because of being persecuted with a lawsuit by a heartless woman over some James Agee manuscripts, which his father had once sold to a university, and so he was on strong anti-depressant medication. Poor Mac, it was all too much for him. He was hounded to his death by two relentless harpies, frankly. There was never a better-natured person, or a more generous and warm-hearted one, than my friend Shoomac. As you can see from his smiling face, he was always ready with a smile for others, even when his own life had fallen apart. In the other photo, he is clowning by wearing a mask, at dinner at our house. Shoomac had as fine a character as anyone I have ever known.

© Robert Temple 2009-2022