Tap dancers and Christmas geese: six letters from Flannery O'Connor.
January 23, 1953
Dear Mr. Carter,
Thank you for your letter. I wish I had something to send you in the way of fiction. What Robie is talking about is a chapter that I didn't use in the novel but that was published in a magazine called "Tomorrow," which I think is now extinct. I don't guess anybody ever saw it in "Tomorrow."
This chapter was called "Woman on the Stairs," and it was printed in the August 1949 issue. If the magazine doesn't exist any more, you might be able to reprint the story, which you are welcome to do as far as I'm concerned, but I don't know anything about how that would be arranged and should you be able to get it for a reprint, I. would like to doctor on it some before you use it. It was one of those pieces that gained by being heard read aloud; just read, it was not so good to my way of thinking.
I know you have a hard time getting fiction but the writers are as poor as the quarterlies. Here are two people that you might just possibly get a good story from: Mrs. Deb Wylder, 918 Iowa Avenue, Iowa City, Iowa, and Miss Clyde McCleod, Mars Hill, North Carolina.
I am always glad to hear somebody has even read Wise Blood. I don't have any fan mail to speak of except a letter from an old lady who said, "This book has left a bad taste in my mouth." I don't reckon she meant it in a nice way but I thought it was quite an achievement for me to have left anything at all with her.
I would certainly like to see the review of my book in the "Shenandoah" and hope you will send me a copy.
February 1, 1953
Dear Mr. Carter:
Thank you for sending me the Shenandoah. I like it very much and the enclosed chock is for a subscription to be sent to me (beginning with the issue you sent) and for one to be sent to Mr. and Mrs. Robert Fitzgerald, 70 Acres Road, Ridgefield, Connecticut, also beginning with the Autumm 1952 issue, and for three extra copies of that issue to be sent to me. I want to distribute them among certain surly connections of mine.
There were not many good reviews of Wise Blood and none but Mr. Cheney's (that I have seen) with any creative insight.
February 18, 1953
Dear Mr. Carter,
The changes I would make in this story are fairly slight and I am afraid your use of it would involve the copyright laws. I would like very much for you to have it if that can be done without my being sent to the penitentiary.
Roughly the changes would be--a different title, different names for two characters, about five or six sentences extracted and two or three new ones put in--nothing to change the structure of it or make it unrecognizable. I have written my agent and asked her what about it and I'll write you again when I hear from her. Naturally since I am a Kenyon Fellow now, I am chary of the police. Thank you for the congratulations.
I have enough copies of the review of Mr. Cheney's to satisfy myself but I would like to see a copy of your summer issue that you had the pieces on agrarianism in. I read the letters that followed in the next issue and now I would like to turn myself around.
3 January 57
Thanks so much for your card and La Martinelli. I was glad to perceive from it that you are vertical yet and about your business. Ashley's last enigmatic communication said something like, "Tom is head of his department and going to Mayo's next week." I can see there must be so me necessary connection. My mother went to Mayo's once and was most impressed that a great part of it was underground and you didn't have to get wet in the rain. Also she was convinced they could have cured her if there had been anything wrong with her. I hope you came away feeling likewise.
This is an item of cultural interest: a story of mine called The Life You Save May Be Your Own is going to be produced as a TV play on the Schlitz Playhouse, Friday, Feb. 1st, starring Mr. Gene Kelly who I regret to say is a tapdancer. According to Ashley, Hugh Kenner things that television is currently equivalent to the Elizabethan drama. Maybe I have that wrong. I hope so.
All the best,
29 December 57
Thanks so much for The Red Priest which I read at once and liked. I never understand Lewis but I always like him.
I was invited to the Cheney's last weekend but didn't get there. Caroline and Allen were in attendance and Wednesday they called up and I talked to the four of them, an ordeal as conversation leaves me when I am confronted with the telephone. They all seemed in fine form. I reckon you know Lon got a $1,000 advance from McDowell on his novel. I saw the first third of it and was favorably impressed. It was much better than the one Fannie calls The Albatross.
According to Ashley he is going to spend the summer in Yugoslavia because there you can live $2.50 a day. There must be other places over there you can live for $2.50 a day at?
The peachicken department has been increased by seven (to my mother's extreme dissatisfaction) but the goose department had been decidedly diminished as I gave all my colored friends a goose for Christmas. They were mighty well received.
A good new year to you and many thanks.
18 April 57
If you still find yourself with the extra copy of THE RED ER IEST, I'd love to have it.
Everybody in Milledgeville, a Bird Sanctuary, looked at the TV play and thought that I had improved greatly as a writer. In fact they never knew before that I was that good. I am looked on with great respect now in these parts, even the children point me out.
I have just come back from Notre Dame where I gave a talk, which I thought was going to be to the students but which turned out to be a Public Lecture at Night. The audience was not ominously clerical though there was a sprinkling of baby faces under heavy black berettas--seminarians, Robert Fitzgerald is there for four months. The Cheneys were supposed to go to see Tom Stritch but they didn't make it at the last minutes.
I am just in receipt of a batch of clippings from Brother Brown about Cal Lowell's recent visit to Santa Barbara, also showing Kenner and other worthies.
I hope you manage to avoid Mayos hereafter.
These letters are among seven letters from Flannery O'Connor to Shenandoah editor Thomas H. Carter located in the Special Collections of the James G. Leyburn Library at Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia.
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|Title Annotation:||60th Anniversary - Flannery O'Connor Issue|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2010|
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