forty-five minutes, without comment, and roughly once a week since then we’ve engaged in similar telephonic performances about which, not being the idiot you believe me to be, I have said nothing: if I spoke, he’d clam up. But I tell you, Eleanor, he is even better than he was before Navia died; he has inscribed his suffering into this work. The piece he read to me a few nights agowas astonishing, crystalline, elliptically structured, an ouroboros devouring its own exquisite tail. The point is: Troy Larpenteur is alive and writing, and with the blessing of William Gass you and Bentham can save him from the anonymous tin enclosure of his P.O. box and be the conduit to his second career. Don’t ask him to teach (I doubt he’s ready for that); just put him in one of the isolated cabins—the ones near the lake—and let him get his work done.
If you’re worried (reasonably so; Troy has always been a perfectionist) that he’ll move too slowly and sit on the second book forever, well: you’re friendly with his editor—Andrews—at Folkstone, aren’t you? He’s not speaking to me, for various reasons, but if you were to wave the Gass essay under his nose and tell him that Folkstone needs to reissue Second Mind … It’s much better than the waterlogged tripe they’ve been publishing lately, and the reissue will stir up interest and give Troy the kick in the pants he’ll need to complete the next book. A simple phone call to Andrews, to let him know that Troy is at Bentham and writing again, may be enough.
Should you already be scanning the Bentham date book, about to inform me that every whitewashed cabin is reserved through the millennium, here’s news: Vivian Zelles, to whom you offered a six-month stay beginning in July, will be turning you down. She’s been admitted to medical school, and she just earned several years’ worth of tuition by selling her quasi-memoir, abook in which she narrates her own childhood from the point of view of a sibling-regurgitating feline. She came vibrating into my office yesterday to give me the news. Our old pal Ken sold it for her: six figures.
Do what you can for Troy, will you?
Your problematic onetime colleague, Jay
P.S.: I sent a note of condolence to MTV’s husband, care of Caxton, but the letter came back. Predictable irony: I hadn’t spoken to Madelyne for years, but now that she’s dead I find there are so many things I’d like to tell her. She and I had an argument once about speculative fiction, and TV claimed that the future didn’t interest her, because the proper concern of the writer was always the past. I hope she lived a full life. I wish I had kept in better touch with her and seen it unfold.
March 4, 2010
Galloway Foundation Research/Travel Awards
27 West 59th Street
New York, New York 10019
Gentle Readers and Committee Members, My colleague Franklin Kentrell has asked me to recommend him for a Galloway Foundation Research and Travel Award. I would have quickly refused with a clear conscience except that Kentrell penned a Galloway recommendation for me a dozen years ago (I did not receive the award), and in his oily, sidewinding way, he trapped me in the corridor this morning, clutched the lapel of my jacket with his untrimmed nails, and suggested that “tit for tat was only fair.”
Kentrell will never survive round #1 of your deliberations; therefore, secure in the knowledge that this letter will soon join thousands of its brethren in a rolling bin destined for recycling—presumably before it is read—I am comfortable endorsing his application.
Wishing you the best of luck with your process, Jay Fitger
March 11, 2010
Hautman and Doyle Literary and Colonic Cleansing Agency
141 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10001
I didn’t notice your ad for a summer intern (you might have sent it to me), but I have an undergraduate who did: Ms. Daniella Macias is ambitious, intellectually aggressive, yadda yadda
Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown