23 Sept : “…Having talked to some people in today’s classes, I think I owe you an apology if my arguing seemed nasty or impertinent…. some people thought I was being impertinent and a general prick…. I meant neither to fight you nor show you disrespect…. I can’t even usually get worked up enough to argue with someone unless I think I can learn from him… In the next two weeks or so I’d like to give you two pieces of short fiction for comments and criticism….” 30 December 1985: “…the auction vis a vis the book closed on 18 December and that the novel, which is titled The Broom of the System, has been bought by Viking-Penguin for what seems to me like an obscene amount of money…. Mr. Howard, whose latest big project was Ironweed, seems really nice and smart and a good reader and also not a hard-ass in terms of making me toe his editorial lines or anything… May I ask Mr. Howard to send you a bound galley at some point for you to read and maybe even review or blurb?....” 21 February 1985: “…I personally am having agent trouble: they’d agreed to handle short stuff for me when I signed with them on the book, but now they think the short material is too ‘unfinished’ (read lousy) to do anything but ‘possible damage to the career they’re trying so carefully to build for me’ Feh…” Sunday, Easter 1985: “…The political shit is hitting the academic fan here at Deare Olde UA. First Mary was out on her shapely bottom, and Orlen is wriggling in her chair with the expression of a well-fed shark…. revelations of sexism toward faculty and students (some clearly hysterical, some troubling and hard to dismiss have been surfacing… will probably end up working in a MacDonald’s. I think a really good short could be written about fast food…” 11 April 1986: Thanking Elman for his blurb “….honored by what you therein, especially as I suspect the novel is not apt to have been your ideal cup of fictional tea…. I was at a lovely wedding ceremony… musically accompanied by 2 Chilean radicales who holstered their Uzis long enough to salsa everybody right on their collective bottom…. ‘Every Love Story is a Ghost Story’ Virginia Woolf to Merv Griffin….” 15 May 1986: “….trying to drink off an afternoon at Viking…. They made me fill out a biographical questionnaire… I am shit-faced. This editor had three vodkas at lunch and you know how children like to imitate….” 6 June 1986: “….I was in NYC when I wrote that brief and glandular letter from the bar (I’ve had a b-b-Wertherish thing for my old roommate’s sister ever since she moved from nymphet to nubile at Smith. Still no hands-on experience…” 15 July 1986: “…Personally things aren’t going too well. There is a very good chance that my mother may be ill. Gale and I have pretty much broken up for good. I had a very unpleasant time with the galleys and am now rather convinced the book is not very good, though I am forced to countenance the fact that it is better than what I have been producing lately, which is pretty much nothing…” 23 August 1986: “…. Gerry Howard is no hired pansy— he’s senior editor at Viking… He’s been a terrific help to me – about 10% of the original mss. was cut at his reasoned suggestion, and the book is better for it… “First year of teaching here is a legendary bitch, and between those chores and some overly-ambitious registering for lit theory classes, I’m worried about having any real time or emotional energy left to devote to fiction….” 22 November 1986: “….there are tentative arrangements (very tentative, pending a meeting with a producer in San Francisco in December) to try and make a movie of the novel and have me write the screenplay…. I’ve been abusing drugs like a fiend and getting damn little writing done…” November 12 1987: “…have discovered... a southern writer named cormac mccarthy, who’s something like faulkner on acid… I recommend…”
A wonderful record of Wallace at the beginning of his career.
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