FIFTY-SEVEN, MARCH 1, 2001
(Copyright © 2001 Al Aronowitz)
(Photo by Brenda Saunders )
THE SHAKESPEARE SQUADRON
(PART 10): HUNTR S. THOMPON AND WALKER PERCY
Thompson farm was guarded by attack peacocks.
Cosmos imagined Rhodesian Ridgebacks running the grounds.
There were signs saying trespassers would be shot.
Well, you couldn't make up conversations with living people, although
Thompson did it about the people he wrote about and E. Jean Carroll did it about
He hoped he didn't put the Indian sign on him by including him in a book
with all dead writers.
Still, if he did die, then Cosmos could interview him.
Generation of Swine was in the tradition of Generation of Vipers.
Was diatribe. There's nothing like A Dog Took My Place in American
Cosmos remembered reading Generation of Vipers in the USO Club at
Waco, Texas, in 1957. Thompson was
in the Air Force then himself, writing wrestling promotion for the Playground
Daily News in Fort Walton Beach.
Ali got it from Gorgeous George.
Thompson got it from Billy Boy and Bad Boy Hines.
Cosmos spoke with Walker Percy in
an office up over his daughter’s bookstore in Covington, Louisiana.
I read The Moviegoer when it came out in paperback.
I missed The Last Gentleman.
For some reason, when Love in the Ruins came out—I read it when I was
at Tulane—I was surprised. I
thought you were dead.
When I dug at Shadows-on-the-Teche, in New Iberia, I read Lanterns on the
Levee. By Will Percy.
I read many of your pieces on language, and the rest of your fiction.
Interviews with you here and there.
A couple of biographies.
You sent me Screed. My
comment was that diatribe made me feel good, and I felt good reading Screed.
That comment meant a lot to me.
How's your truck running?
Better, but not good. The
shop said I may need a new carburetor.
But a co-worker said he'd look at it for me.
Help me put it on, if that's what it needs.
Some writer--was it Henry James?--said to Conrad, "How fortunate you
were to have had the experiences you had."
You worked. As a laborer,
clerk, blacklisted paraprofessional. All
I ever did was go to school and write.
Drink whiskey, listen to La Traviata, and watch the martins eat
You wrote bestsellers. Won
the National Book Award. Played in
the major leagues.
Won batting titles. Against
major league pitching.
I'm playing tennis without a net, shooting my little squibs out into the
void. Shooting fish in a barrel.
Preaching to the choir. My
coterie of steadfast readers, the Buzzard Cult.
You call yourself a coterie writer in Screed.
Make fun of yourself. Your
humor in the face of a well-nigh unrelenting opposition is redeeming.
Zany laff riot. Homo Hijinks.
You write about race relations, making a living, raising a family, trying
to establish yourself as a writer. All
important subjects, which we cannot have too many perspectives on.
Too many voices. Only too
few, and the wrong ones, it seems to me. We
hear mostly courtiers, who cut their cloth to suit the current fashion.
Who sing the praises of the king for a dispensation.
Instead of pointing out the Emperor has no clothes on.
They're selling the Emperor a bill of goods.
Selling wolftickets. Crying
Start at the pointing finger and trace it back.
To mix a metaphor.
Things are not as they seem.
How are they?
It seems to me you're answering that with uncanny vigor.
All I can say is keep it up.
Don't lose heart.
We're rooting for you up here.
You have readers you have not met. ##
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