The Author on His Writing Styles


There was not enough space in the July 3rd posting to include this July 3, 1962 letter to New York Times book reviewer Charles Poore:

   Ah, but I do write like Kafka. Somewhere in one of those 14 volumes of scrapbooks that Sister has collected since we were married 7 1/2 years ago there is a high-tone think piece that groups me with Kafka, Kierkegaard, Camus and Sartre. Somewhere else, of course, I am in the company of Cain, Chandler, Hammett and Spillane. And, somewhere else, Edith Wharton and Henry James. And somewhere else, Zola and Sinclair Lewis. I am a sort of utility outsider, an all-purpose for-instancer. And I think I know why.
   The same man wrote OURSELVES TO KNOW, the three novellas in SERMONS AND SODA WATER, FIVE PLAYS, ASSEMBLY, THE BIG LAUGH and - for November publication and October availability - the stories in THE CAPE COD LIGHTER. Bang, bang, bang, etc. I have a story coming out in The New Yorker this summer called THE BUCKET OF BLOOD. If it didn't have my name on it it would not be recognizable as the work of the author of THE WOMEN OF MADISON AVENUE. But it is, and does have my name on it. And the next story after that is WINTER DANCE (I think), which would further confuse the authorship identification. Knuckle ball, slider, high hard one, letup ball, etc. I do it that way because I love to do it that way, to sustain my own interest, and only incidentally to confuse the people who put me in lists that prove with eternal finality that I am not as good as Louis Auchincloss, or Ring Lardner, or Philip Roth, or Saul Bellow, depending on which list they are making. 

   One thing I needn't worry about: that a year from now a Geismar (critic Maxwell Geismar) will solemnly announce that maybe I wasn't so good after all.

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