All day the next day, Alfred did not turn on his light and he lay on his bed. There was no picture of her from his dresser that he could hold as he drank, head still on the pillow as he poured, but there was the image, and, more, the liquid, caressing sounds of the Negro girl with infinite love and patience telling him, as the record turned all day : “I’ve got a crush on you sweetie pie “All the day and night time, hear my sigh . . .” ANEY was just walking out the door of the coke bar, balancing the coffee in the paper cup, wearing sandals, his oval handsome faintly-bearded face set with the concentration of watching the coffee, and with the sort of perpetual smile and bitter amused tolerance which he wore. He had a book caught under his arm, and he was pulling up a steel lawn chair. Wanda was crossing the tiled patio. She was wearing thong sandals and her legs looked very good. She was in a low-swinging summer dress. She looked, and Haney looked, and she went in to get a roll and a coke. She was gone a good while. Haney was rising when she came out the door. “Here, take this chair,” he said. Her brown eyes were round and still. “Is everything allright?” asked Haney, smiling. He was working hard at getting a cigarette going, his head bent down as he looked up at her through the smoke. He lifted his head, blew out smoke, and fanned the match flame away. “Go along, you little pimp,” said Wanda. “You didn’t lose control of things, did you?” Her mouth framed two words, silently. Haney turned and began to swing up the walk, up the tiers of steps, steps which led to the next arcing sidewalk among the dusty meaningless shrubs. The breeze was blowing across the campus, and the sun was hot on the mall. It was mid-afternoon, and only a few were crossing therea blueshirted Arab or two going to the post office. Haney’s smile remained, but slackened a little, as if it might turn to vomiting. But his movements were terse, graceful, relaxed. “Oh dear me, something must have gone wrong,” he thought. “Tsk, tsk, tsk.” He would check in the library book. This business. So graceless. Misunderstood. Solitary. The Editor and the Writer on ‘Brains’ In response to the story “Brains,” the Observer ‘editor wrote Winston Bode: Dear Winston, I took your story to Patzcuaro with me and read it very carefully and, I believe, thoughtfully there. It seemed to me to be a better story, as writing, than I remember it to have been when I read it once before. I could not reach a decision about it there, that is, a disposition toward it that I found convinced me, and so I set it aside, and been working along slowly two days, weakened with turista. My disposition is still not to run it, and the question having had longer to percolate in my mind, I now find this disposition convincing. It is a close question in my mind, mainly, I believe, because I hate to see so much serious, skillful attention to characterization in a story line not be published. In my opinion, the conceptual difficulty, I find, as a practical matter, most difficult to overcome, that is, most a drag against publishing the story, is that it has unmistakable elements of both the pure story, not seeking to make general comment on current events, and the editorially representational story, which is seeking to make in effect editorial comment on current events. It is in its attributes as the former that it had the most value to me. It is in its attributes as the latter that I found myself having serious doubts on two scores: on how much you know of your own experience about this, and on how fair it is as representationalism. Specifically, I would not think it fair, if it was meant to designate something like the central or recurring condition of the Negro militants’ movement, or to represent even its several main types. I stress I do not assert you had such intention ; that is, representationalism; but it is in the effect of the work in this direc tion, as topical content, that I find my doubts conclusive. As a literary matter, I do not understand the relationship between the two fraternity brothers, why the fatuous, confused idealist would put, and continue to put, himself at the mercy of such a ‘cynical realist, and therefore, anyone the realist might want to let in on the joke. I find Haney quite believable, but only if I posit the omission, in your characterization, of important dimensions of character in him: but this is from my experience of such persons, and is therefore a personal comment from me merely. I think most of all it is an inappreciation of the sincerity which, if I am not entirely and totally deceived in my observations of it, constitutes a material and considerable part of the Negro militants’ movement, that alienates me from your story instinctively and over the long run also. Winston, let us be candid about a difficulty between us as writer and editor. I believe you think I cannot write, or that I cannot write well, or very well, and I would not argue with you about this. I am not the judge of such a matter, nor is any man, about his own work, though he does the best he can to be objective about it. But my awareness, or intuition, of your attitude, sometimes makes it hard for me to relate straightforwardly to you, for fear you will resent my candor. So let me say that I do not mean to assert any implication my judgment on any literary matter is equal to or better than yours, that my only intention is to do the work I am supposed to, in this job I have. Ronnie Bode replied: Dear Ronnie, Thanks for giving “Brains” such careful attention. Your feelings about it naturally are provocative, and I’m not being cursory in not trying to comment here. I’d like to think about it all a little more. Bode Bode replied further: Dear Ronnie: I can think of nothing more uncalled for or futile than the rejected author arguing with his editor. However, if I try to put down a few thoughts that came to me as a result of your letter on “Brains,” I hope I won’t be wasting your time or mine. I suppose the reason I do this is that I hate basic intellectual confusions, and I do think we have one here. I do not think anything will be changed by my discussion, nor am I trying to defend my work. I’ve some time back given up being defensive about rejections. I am in no way piqued by your attitude regarding “Brains”; I think you made a hard effort at evaluation and came to your sincerest possible conclusion, if that is good English. However, I believe that in your evaluation there is a lack of clarity, honesty with self, accuracy, or some such. First of all, “Brains” is an attempt at pure fiction, or literature, and must be judged as such. I believe that your evaluation of it involved some purely social or institutional considerations, and is therefore flawed. I am perfectly aware that you discount any attempt on my part at trying to write a partial-tract, or a story with editorial content, but that youfinding elements of topical content in the storywere forced to give what one might call a non-literary consideration to this content. I say this simply for the record, since it doesn’t really follow in any logical sequence which I might be lucky enough to develop here. If I were given to the blunt unfair halftruths typical of my Alabama boy in the December 25, 1964 ‘
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