century novel is full of them, yawning on couches. I like writing about them and don’t intend to stop. Mr. Barthelme will just have to read somebody else. Besides, the boredom of the intelligent and the privileged has to be one of fiction’s richest subjects. So many of the failures of civilization coalesce there. 13.I’m afraid I even like all the passages he quotes. 14.I don’t quite comprehend the charge of ugliness. I think Mr. Barthelme just means I write badly. Quote: “Cliches, contradictions, weak syntax and outrageous turns of phrase likewise can be useful or beautiful in fiction,’ but there are govern their use. The first of these laws requires the author to know that he’s doing what he’s doing.” I wish he had mentioned the second of the laws, and perhaps the third. Apparently on the few occasions when I managed to avoid cliche I fall immediately into errors of syntax and outrageous turns of phrase. 15.Cliche. Writing a novel without them would frankly take too long, and the result, if one went to the trouble, would be something eccentric and stilted, like \(hasty Onegin. Homer had his formulaic phrases we have our cliches. Personally I think a too-heightened sense of style reduces one’s ability to visualize a scene. Too much style clots up a novel and makes for a loss, rather than a gain, in vividness. 16.Those remarks about my unnecessary precision were awfully cute. If he was going to quote the passage in which I mention several specific things Patsy was sick of, he should have quoted it, instead of replacing my specifics with dots. 24 The Texas Observer I do not propose to retreat from particularity in such matters. Novels thrive on particulars. 17.I applaud Mr. Barthclme for chiding me about having Davey poked with one finger instead of two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, or ten fingers. Should I have said “a finger?” Such nit-picking is almost sublime. Next time I’ll have the young man poke the kid with a fork. 18.I accept the points about contradictions. I remembered the one about Roger fifty times, in the middle of the night, and was too lazy to get up and correct it. Simon and Schuster’s copy editors, who ought to have caught it, were closeted with books on child development, trying desperately to determine if Davey was doing the right things for his age. Many fine points escaped us both. A sorry stew. 19.Syntax. Well, we superliterates know that there is such a thing as rhythm, Ronnie Dugger’s recent \(Observer, Jan. having acquiesced in President Nixon’s nomination of him to be Secretary of the Treasury seems to me to be inconsistent with the theory behind \(what I recall that Texas liberals vote for certain Republican candidates. That theory was that successful Republican candidacies would encourage conservative Democrats over to the GOP. Now, when not just any conservative Democrat but their champion takes what could plausibly be interpreted as a step in that direction, he is accused of “treachery,” of having “willingly consented . . . to be used [for] Nixon’s and the Republican’s political gain” and of being one of those who “use a Judas goat.” Surely it would have been better, in terms of that theory, to have applauded Connally’s decision, to have encouraged him to go the rest of the way, and to have exhorted his fellows to follow their leader. Am I missing something or is it just that there are no political moves which Connally could make and which would meet with Dugger’s approval, notwithstanding his theories of political proper name-calling? \(It’s a tough life, Charles M. Young, 526 West University Pkwy, Baltimore, Md. 21210. On freaks Thanks to you and Henry Staten for the definition of “freaks” as it pertains to my generation \(Observer, been groping for such an explanation for months now in order that my parents and I could both appreciate the terminology. I would like to add, however, that reluctant to talk about it. The syntax of a particular sentence is not so independent a matter as Mr. Barthelme makes it sound. The syntax of the sentence has to be adjusted indeed, sometimes, wrenched so that the sentence will not obtrude too awkwardly from the passage in which it appears. My numerous sins against normal order have a noble purpose, at least, though they may not fulfill it. One’s lonely ear is the only available arbiter when such choices have to be made. Okay. I hope Mr. Barthelme strikes back. It’s hardly Leavis and Snow, but it beats grading themes. He’ll be horrified to know that Moving On was the last volume of a trilogy. I’ve just finished the first volume. There’s no rodeo in it, alas, but it has an extremely consistent narrative voice. Happy holiday. Yours, Larry McMurtry. IDialogue “freaks” is more than merely non-derogatory and non-restrictive description. The term further suggests uniqueness or, if you will have it, individuality. And that’s a concept more or less cherished by my generation. Peace. Murray Cohen, 1201 Town Creek, Austin, Tex. The scandal We are again reminded of the insurance and land scandals of the 50’s. Inasmuch as we have a carry-over of some of that element in high public office to-day, we can’t be to surprised by the large loans and stock transactions in which they are involved. Are we so naive that we will accept their pleadings and protests of innocence and no wrong-doing when we see a quarter and a half million dollar loans to these rats and they insult our intelligence by trying to sell us on the idea their deals do not connote political influence and official favors? The mayor of Houston, chairman of the State Democratic Committee, governor, lt. governor, and speaker of the House should be asked to step aside until this investigation is completed. I only wish it were in my power to start here at the grass roots level and sweep the city, county and state clean of the worst bunch of parasites in the history of our state. I am convinced the majority of the people in Texas do not want people in high public office where honesty and integrity are above reproach. Audry M. Tippen, Houston, Texas. R. D. & J. C.