Reading E.B. White
I just read a few of E.B. White's letters. I'm back at my desk, for a day anyway, getting caught up on emails, some writing I want to do, and some homework for my summer residency next week at UAA. I like to "warm-up" with some reading, poems, or an essay, or author's letters. Today, it is letters from E.B. White. (He signs them Andy, which is what everyone called him.) My favorite, so far is, "Dear Alice: Thanks for the letter. I don't believe I can write a book about a horse because I don't know any horse." Here is one that makes me wish we all had to wait a few days for the reply to a letter in the mail, to think and digest the meaning, and be thoughtful in responding, rather than simply tap out another fiery email. Sometimes important things are best left to sit a bit. Here's one to the editor of the New Yorker, where White wrote, "Dear Ross: I've read my piece over in proof, don't like it, and don't want it published. What I suggest is that, if you are willing, you credit me with the amount paid me, and I will turn in other casuals (shorter) against it and work it off that way...Please don't try to argue me out of this." And finally, this, from one of the best American writers-- ever-- to his publisher: "Dear Paul: Sorry my book has fallen on such hard times; those 843 copies that you are stuck with should really be sent back to me... then I could say, with Thoreau, "I now have a library of twelve hundred books, 843 of which I wrote myself." Sort of puts things in perspective, lest my head swell over the PR for the latest (and just my second) book.