Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Umnak Island, 27 September 1944

My darling…

Today Jack and I saw “Mask of Dimitrios” and if Howard’s [Daniel’s] letter hadn’t been enough to give be the Balkan shakes, those shots of street scenes in Belgrade and dives in Sofia were a stack of superweighted straws for this poor camel. Ever since getting out the movie I have been tasting smokey sliva, buying long sticks of barbecued meat and trying to remember to say no by shaking my head. 

I didn’t think the show quite came up to the book. Rather surprisingly, I was disappointed most by Peter Lorre’s characterization of the unintentional hero. But , oh mona, that background.

Jack was almost as excited by some of the café shots as I was. He has a pretty good feeling for atmosphere. He also has pretty good luck. At long last he is on his way. I had gone t bed after getting back from the show and woke hearing somebody running down the path toward the hut. There was only one thing that could make anyone run that hard so by the time Jack bounced down the steps I was half out of bed and had my hand stuck out for a congratulatory handshake. I am glad he finally made it, but I hate to see him go. His friendship helped a lot, especially in the shaky days when I first got here. He will probably beat this letter to Seattle.

Pete Pedersen’s letter was very nice, Nunny. One of these unfine days I’ll write to him. But first I have to write to Howard Lewis (I’ve already sent a long lament to the Daniels about their departing us) and to Milt Stewart and, especially, to Bill James.  I haven’t written to the Jameses yet so it will be a hard letter to do. …

And most of all I want to keep to my new routine which gets in a lot of creative writing. I have put in several hours daily during the past week and today finished a rather fast action pulp story. I think it is better than either of the last two, although the closing scene may bother you as the church fight did in “A Job for Joe.” I’m not sure it will, though for I kept gratuitous violence out. I just threw in three killings, but all were in self-defense.
I’m glad I finished the story because I am a bit happy about it and takes the sting of the news from Ann Elmo that the New Yorker declined to make itself immortal. She suggests that the point of the story be strengthened and then she’ll give Esquire a shot at it. I expect to get to work on it within the next few days, but first I want to tackle a Mexican idea that I’ve been dallying with. Up here, somehow, I don’t mind the idea of rewriting as much as I did before. There is an abundance of time, probably. 

We have two puppies in the camp. Their antecedents are dubious, but their actions are almost Blueyish. They roll and tumble and fall on their faces and run in sections instead of as a piece. When they battle one goes for the ear and the other for the tail and they chew each other joyfully and, because of their Arctic fur, ineffectually. Their names are Snafu and Tarfu. The foxes seem afraid of them, although neither is much bigger than a fox head.

I didn’t write yesterday because I slept for thirteen hours—purely by accident. The guy who was going to wake me went to sleep himself. And today I’m a bit too groggy to write much because I had almost no sleep what with seeing Jack on his way and sitting up to listen to the moans of Greenleaf and Egan, who haven’t made it yet. So this letter won’t be much.

I forgot to tell you that the pussywillow feeling flower which you liked best is the lupin.
Now I have to get to work, little lover. I’ll bat out a better letter tomorrow.

 Thanks to "Greenthumb," a Fairbanks gardener, from whose online collection I lifted this image of Arctic lupine

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