Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Umnak, 23 December 1944

My sweet slumber bunny…

It is four o’clock Saturday morning. I am just back from a long walk in the dark. The night is very clear. A half-moon went down behind the mountain while I was walking, and the stars came out with a Danube brightness. The Bering is black and mysterious, and the outline of the hills so intense they seem to give off black light. Just as a I started back a very thin light snow began to fall from the cloudless sky. It is still falling and somehow it reminds me of our seagull at the Heranger bar. I am very lonesome but somehow very near to you tonight. Your alarm is probably going off now.
I had one disappointment during the day (besides the war news, which I won’t discuss). One of the local lads who was sweating out transportation for his furlough had promised to take you the be-booted nightgown which that sad Sterns outfit misshipped to me here instead of to you. But his plane call came suddenly and he did not remember to take it. So now I know you won’t get it for Christmas. We can’t send Christmas wires. So I can’t even greet you, my sweet. I hope you got the other present from Rusek’s in time. Or the novel.
My writing on the new opus [Bridge to Russia]is progressing much faster than I had expected. Ted Godfrey, who read the first part today, claims to find it interesting and while I do not trust his candor I am pleased. I am enclosing the preliminary drafts of some more of the section on “The Land.” Give me the comments as soon as possible. And incidentally, send up my copy of Howard Handlemann’s Bridge to Victory, which I can use now. I think if you mark it book you can sent if first class mail quite cheaply and the first class mail usually comes air mail.

I had a letter from Tom Boland of Camp Adair today. He is still somewhere in Italy and says he envies me the security of the Aleutians. I’ll send along the letter as soon as I’ve answered it, but there is one quote I liked well enough to copy: 

“I walked down one of the streets of Florence and came upon the Duomo or chief church…Quite breathtaking the first time. I was drinking in the beauty of the church and the Italian atmosphere when one of our sound trucks rumbled into the center of the plaza and started to play Poinciana by Benny Goodman’s band."

Incidentally, he had gone to Florence to see Katherine Cornell and Brian Aherne give “The Barretts of Wimpole Street.”

Which reminds me that I forgot to tell you about our last movie. I wouldn’t bother, except that it was good. It was a British horror story, released the Paramount, and why they let it out I’ll never know because it again shows just how much Hollywood hasn’t learned. The story is in the Frankenstein-Dr. Jekyll tradition. A pair of scientists get an idea of a way to achieve eternal youth, the only difficulty being that it involves an operation which usually results in the death of the cooperating party. Instead of the usual hocus-pocus of laboratory and repeated quick changes, the director lets the horror be built up by the always impending threat of a change. Everything is understated. Which makes the sudden aging of the protagonist, when it does come, all the more horrible. Also, there is the very unHollywood touch that when the girl sees him at ninety she is still in love with him and does not bug her eyes, heave her breasts adroitly and get out half a lurch ahead of an octogenarian rapist. The title, in case it comes to Seattle when you have an hour and a half free, is “The Man on Half-Moon Street.”

I’ll write again tomorrow, my lovely. Now I get back to work on the new book. You are adored, always and always.

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