About the Author
The Cruelest Lie; The Why of It
The Cruelest Lie is a novel which is more concerned with characters than with situations. A story occurs to me as a person and then it takes on what that person is, what he or she's like, what he or she does. My books are more about the why of people than the how of living.
The issue of the level of violence in the book and whether the mayhem detracts from the literary quality (if such quality does indeed exist in my writting) I center around Shelby Foote's excellent dissertation on southern fiction and southern culture. Americans are a people steeped in violence. The south was from its earliest days and may still he the most violent section of America. It produced for years a preponderance of our military officers, and it leant itself to physical solutions of even the simplest conflicts which often lead to great violence. The south of William Faulkner was a south of heroes. My south is a south of ordinary men made corrupt by their memories and desires. The south I grew to manhood in was by no means totally corrupt, but the falseness of what we were; a segregated society living on in antebellum splendor, and what we professed to be; a people dedicated to separate but equal access in a democratic society, was the bacteria which contaminated all of us to some degree with the corrupting effects of social mendacity. As a writer I choose to deal with that corruption at its most extreme limits.
Gilbow Brown and Tommy Sligo are each unique forms of 1950 models of southern son-of-a-bitches, but in time of war they, or men very much akin to them, became our heroes. They put aside their personal madness and boldly carried our flag to the enemy in World War II and in Korea. When the wars go away, they turn their propensity for violence to other arenas, and their answer to life's great questions is most probably always going to be some form of violence. Men of that repute and limited stature have two great talents; struggling to impose their unique brand of injustice upon the weak, or struggling to destroy someone else's injustice and oppression for reasons which may not always be clear to them. I don't know that it is a good or an evil thing per say, but it makes for good story telling.
The Cruelest Lie when carefully read makes a strong statement about the cruelest and most long lasting of human failings, indifference. The original quotation by Robert Louis Stevenson goes like this, "The cruelest lies are often told in silence." Silence is the language of the indifferent. The south of my youth was indifferent to injustice on many levels, and all to often good people accepted the injustice as being a necessary part of living, and doing business. Lies to be successful to work toward their real purpose, control, need not be believed. They succeed because good men who know the falseness of the lies participate in silence and transform the lie into truth.
Milton Lyles was born and raised in Louisiana. From his father came the Irish in him, and the dreams. Milt served in the marines, was a prison guard, and eventually became a school principal. All who know him recognize Milt as a master storyteller. He eventually took a leap of courage away from the safe path that was his life to pursue in earnest his dreams. "The Cruelest Lie" and his other books are the result. Milt lives in Upland, California with his wife, Carole.