"All I've Tried to Be" and John O'Hara on Grace Tate


On July 22, 1972, publication of "All I've Tried to Be." Esquire. The Time Element and Other Stories.

In the late forties young Miss Lapham, who has joined the Gibbsville Standard  ("Well, part of my job, at least till I learn my way around, I'm supposed to go back in the files and write the thirty-years-ago and twenty-years-ago-today stuff.") goes to a large city (Philadelphia, Harrisburg, New York?) to interview Lewis C. Craymer, a fifty-five year-old former Gibbsville resident. She hopes he can tell her something about a group photograph someone has sent to the newspaper. In responding to her, he asks her for dinner that evening, they have a small tiff about who sent the photo to the newspaper (He denies it was he and how dare she imply he did), then she accepts his dinner invitation.

Like the story posted  yesterday, the thirty-four stories in The Time Element (1972) had never been published in book form.

On July 22, 1949, shortly after he finished A Rage to Live, John O'Hara wrote a letter to Time editor Frank Norris. In the novel, Grace Tate had been happily and faithfully married to Sidney Tate for over many years until she suddenly had a brief torrid affair with Roger Bannon. This is what the author wrote about Grace Tate and Roger Bannon:

. . . there is nothing in Grace's background that is inconsistent with her behavior. In fact, let me put it another way: whether I succeeded or not, I did attempt constantly to prepare the reader for that business . Bannon, remember, is totally unlike Brock and Charlie Jay and Sidney and the other boys and young men Grace had known, so that when she did kick up it had to be with a Bannon , a violent fox, if you see what I mean. . . I must insist that sexually Grace had been preparing for a Bannon all her life and that is it was merely circumstances that kept her from one earlier in her young womanhood . . .

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