Monday, August 11, 2008

Sherwood Anderson as a role model

I have uploaded half a dozen stories onto True Stories of a Holocaust Revisionist. I see now that some of them need work. I’ll get around to it. The stories are posted in a roughly chronological order by decade, from the 1930s into the 2000s. There are no stories from the 1930s and 40s. As I noted here a couple days ago, in 1963 I threw away everything I had written the previous eleven years. That included the stories I had from those two decades.

After I posted that anecdote I recalled that in 1963 the impulse to get rid of the work I had done up to that time was a copy-cat action. A famous American writer in the early 20th century had done something like it. I couldn’t remember his name. He had influenced Hemingway. For a period. This evening I decided to track the guy down. Not difficult. Sherwood Anderson. He lived from 1876 into 1941. His Winesburg, Ohio was still being read in the 1960s. In Wikipedia I read that in “November 1912 he disappeared for four days after suffering a mental breakdown. Soon he left his job and his marriage broke up. Anderson described the entire episode as ‘escaping from his materialistic existence,’ which garnered praise from many young writers, who used his ‘courage’ as an example.”

Wikipedia does not mention that during the four days of his mental breakdown Anderson threw away all his written work. Why wouldn’t they mention it? That would be the part of the story that “many young writers” would have seen as an act of “courage.” Maybe I have the story wrong. Maybe I had it wrong at the time. In any event, I wasn't a young writer in 1963. I was 33 years old. And if I thought I could copy-cat a courageous act by a first class American writer and then become one myself, I got it wrong.

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