Two Stories and a Letter


On December 1, 1928, publication of  "The Boss' Present." The New Yorker.

The first of the Hagedorn & Brownmiller series. Employees requested to chip in to buy The Boss a Christmas present.

"I've been sort of shopping around lately and have just about definitely decided what we ought to get
F. W. this year. It's a very novel and useful gift, combining both the practical and the attractive. It is a cigarette lighter - now wait a minute, before you all frown yourselves to death, fellows. . . . This one is different . . . "

On December 1, 1962, publication of "How Can I Tell You?" The New Yorker. The Hat on the Bed. Depression strikes Mark McGranville.

   "He got out of bed and went to the warm livingroom and turned on one bulb in a table lamp. He lit a cigarette and took the first drag, but he let it go out. He was thirty years old, a good father, a good husband, and so well thought of that Mrs. Preston would make sure that he got credit for a sale. His sister had a good job, and his mother was taken care of. On the sales blackboard at the garage his name was always first or second, in two years had not been down to third. Nevertheless he went to the hall closet and got out his 20-gauge and broke it and inserted a shell."

Steven Goldleaf discusses the depression/suicide issue with John O'Hara, Ernest Hemingway and Julian English. John O'Hara - A Study of the Short Fiction. Pages 108-110, 170-171. (Mark doesn't kill himself).

Excerpts from a December 1, 1967 letter:

"No author, of course, is ever satisfied with his publisher's advertising budget (where it concerns the author's books). . . I enjoy talking about myself as a brand name. It is a harmless conceit so long as I know that when I return to this typewriter to do my work, I must rely on my skill. A blank page can quickly restore one's modesty, although I know some authors who have spent years looking at blank pages with no discernible resurgence of humility, poor dears."

No comments: