Thursday, December 24, 2015

Don't trust John D. MacDonald to update his own stories, please

You really can't trust any writer to try to regain control of an old work. The creative process is a process, as I argued long ago, that begins, continues, and if the stars are aligned right, ends, ENDS! People did not want to hear this in 1984 as shown by the trashing of my FLAWED TEXTS AND VERBAL ICONS. My goodness, my goodness, look at that title by date in and you see that every year people speak respectfully of it, after the initial several years of contemptuous comments. The worst was Gary Davenport saying that if I was right all of Western Civilization would crumble away because it is built on the sanctity of the Word.

So I have in hand another 1984 book which may have been welcomed back then. John D. MacDonald in MORE GOOD OLD STUFF has this to say about his earlier foreword to THE GOOD OLD STUFF: I "had taken the liberty of updating such mechanical matters as taxi fares, pay scales, phone procedures and the price of a drink in those stories which did not depend upon the particular year in which they were placed to achieve their effect. Also, I took the liberty of changing those words in common usage which over the years have acquired a flavor I did not intend. 'Gay' is an example of one of these unfortunate changes. . . . I want my stories to entertain. If a story captures and entertains a reader, one certain way of breaking the spell is to make him conscious of he fact that he is reading a story. If the hero rushes into a candy store and puts a nickel in a pay phone, it jars. If he buys a quart of milk for twenty cents, the spell is broken."

Back to the library with MORE GOOD OLD STUFF unread. Only a wistful writer would think that a reader is not conscious that he or she is reading a story. Only a wistful writer would think that every story is not of its own time, ineluctably.

Can you guess how long I have waited to use the word ineluctably correctly?

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