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UPDATE: Karen Hall’s Dark Debts

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A long time ago, the (mostly) TV writer Karen Hall very kindly hosted me and The Wife for dinner at the above restaurant in Santa Monica (now closed) to talk about a pilot she had sold. (She told me to keep an eye out for an upcoming drama called Mad Men; that’s how long ago this was.) We had a lovely evening, though the pilot, as far as I know, has yet to be produced. Hall went on to do numerous other things. I went on to join this blog. Now comes word that she has done what very few authors get a chance to do: go back and fiddle with an already published novel. (I think of Waugh tinkering with later editions of Brideshead, and not much else.) What fun!

Beginnings

“Too, I found emotionally-charged debates between writers of reviews and their readers, who would fire off vituperative rebuttals of the ignominious stance the reviewer had taken earlier in the pages of the magazine or journal. These rebuttals fairly smoked with high dudgeon, and I could see that the readers had read Walker Percy’s books as if their very lives depended on it (which, of course, in one important sense, they do). These exchanges took on a real-life, win-or-lose significance for me.”
— from the author’s Foreword to Walker Percy: A Comprehensive Descriptive Bibliography, by Linda Whitney Hobson

Flannery and Me

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The New Mexico Nurse (long since transplanted here to La Mesa, where all good people live) was kind enough to email and let me know that the latest issue of the New Yorker magazine carried a collection of excerpts from the grad-school (some place in Iowa?) journal of Flannery O’Connor. The entries are addressed to God. I haven’t read them yet (waiting ’til I can savor), except for the line “Please help me to get down under things and find where You are,” which naturally jumped out at me, and the last bit, which I couldn’t help but notice:

My thoughts are so far away from God. He might as well not have made me. And the feeling I egg up writing here lasts approximately half an hour and seems a sham. I don’t want any of this artificial superficial feeling stimulated by the choir. Today I have proved myself a glutton – for Scotch oatmeal cookies and erotic thought. There is nothing left to say of me.

Isn’t it fun to find you have things in common with one of your heroes? Scratch “oatmeal cookies” and replace “half an hour” with “five minutes,” and it could be me writing that entry! Just not, you know, in the New Yorker.

What are you trying to tell me, Walker Percy?

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What’s that? You want me to finish The Last Gentlemen now that your dear wife has passed? Sorry pal, there’s just no market for it.

(I suspect it was a telemarketer. But seeing as how I didn’t pick up, I’ll never know for sure.)