Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I loved writing "The Auteur-Author Paradox: How Critics of the Cinema and the Novel talk about Flawed or Even 'Mutilated' Texts." It was for a special number of STUDIES IN THE NOVEL (Fall 1995), 27.3, 413-426, for which I had edited the special issue on Stephen Crane almost two decades earlier. My research for the article taught me about the very different ways literary critics and film critics deal with damaged texts, and I had a private joy in writing it. After leaving Los Angeles for Delaware I had lost touch with Paul Seydor for a few years then watching an early Tom Hanks movie, TURNER & HOOCH, I saw his name as Editor. Wonderful: he had been an assistant professor at USC and now had remade himself into a film editor. I could get hold of him despite the changed area codes, when I wanted to. I was patient. I wrote "The Auteur-Author Paradox" for Paul, thinking the while of "me and Paul" in "Nashville was the Roughest." When I had copies of the article I made contact with Paul and in days he stopped by our corner of Pennsylvania (the last house in SE Pennsylvania) before going to see his mother in western Pennsylvania.

He brought with him a rough cut of TIN CUP, so I got to see my second cousin Bill Costner toward the end. We also got to point out an awkward spot and suggest a revision only to learn that we could see a problem but were really not great at coming up with visual solutions. Well, I was used to being around Maurice Sendak then, so I had knew what it was to have a good visual sense and knew I did not have one. It was marvelous to have Paul back in our lives, so my thoughts about the Auteur-Author essay were always joyous.

That joy lasted till the day we got here and went to the P.O. box we had rented in San Luis Obispo and found the second of the letters excerpted above. It was one of my best essays, I knew, and can only assume that the ferocious defenders of the expurgated THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE did not want it in the collection.

Reading that second letter was not really the very most cheering way to start my retirement.

Now, 13 years later, I place this episode in the CENSORSHIP BY ANY OTHER NAME category.

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