The Man Who Had To Talk To Somebody


On October 11, 1930, publication of "The Man Who Had To Talk To Somebody." The New Yorker. The Doctor's Son and Other Stories.

. . . A compassionate portrait of Williams, a desperately lonely middle-aged clerk who forges unwanted friendships with his coworkers, including the narrator. Over lunch at a "terrible" hash house, the creepy, slightly deranged Williams reveals that his rich friends from Yale have helped him with his "trouble," the bouncing of some checks, for which he went to jail and for which his wife and young daughter have left him. This is a character sketch of a man so severely traumatized by a serious mistake that he can never rejoin society. His derangement is progressive: by the story's end, after he inappropriately asks a teenaged girl in the office to a movie, he gets fired from his miserable job. He leaves the office laughing, his isolation from humanity so great that no further separation seems possible.

From Steven Goldleaf's John O'Hara - A Study of the Short Fiction.  Page 16.

From an October 11, 1956 letter:

One reason why pictures are not better, or that there are not more good pictures, is the business of rewriting, which is partly the fault of the producers and partly the fault of the writers, both of too often take the attitude that "we'll fix that later". What that does, at least with a good writer, is to disturb the even, if ragged, flow of his story-telling. If a good writer is allowed to make his own mistakes, the story achieves a personality of the more or less anonymous story-teller. The story will have its ups and downs, not all in the right places, but you will have felt at the end that you were in the presence of a story-teller telling a story, and not just examining an assembly-line product . . .

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