Thursday, September 14, 2006

News from the Post Office

[posted by Callimachus]

Eudora fans, fans of good writing, and fans of the writing process generally, take note of this new book, which I hope is as good as the review of it.

Of Austen Welty wrote, as if of her own work, "How could it be possible for these novels to seem remote? For one thing, the noise! What a commotion comes out of their pages!" As a published writer, she also wrote to [S.J.] Perelman, whom she had revered and imitated when younger, and he wrote her back:

I hope you won't think I'm being unduly familiar when I ask for permission to kiss the hem of your expensive garment, but I'm an obscure member of the Welty Fan Club, whose other name, I understand, is Legion. Another paid-up member, he asks me to inform you, is Ogden Nash. None of this will pay your grocer's bill, I admit, but it may stave off boredom.

The opening chapter of "Losing Battles" is not only one of the most delightful and funny passages in American fiction, it's also one of the best pieces of pure writing. I could teach a year-long course in the art based on that, the first chapter of "The Big Sleep" and "Araby" by Joyce.

And if you thought I meant a computer mail system when I first wrote "Eudora," shame on you. Get away from that keyboard and crack a book.