Page 3


DIALOGUE THE KING’S DISPLEASURE I know nothing of the merits or demerits involved in the pissing match between Dick Holland and Spike Gillespie, but since the Observer partially defended Holland on the grounds of his “astute editing” \(Dialogue, \(Larry L. King: A Writer’s Life in Letters, or, I must say the following: Dick Holland did very little editing of my book. Most of the editing was done by who self. We also shaped the book as to form, did the lion’s share of the explanatory footnotes and furnished much of the information that constituted the chapter lead-ins bearing Holland’s name. This was necessary because although Holland signed a contract as Editor he simply did not perform as such to mine or the publisher’s satisfaction; as I see it, he turned a two-year job into a six-year job and we eventually had to hire other people to proceed. Holland’s main contribution consisted of winnowing many thousands of letters down to about 600 no small task, admittedly from which I then chose the letters eventually published. He also transferred many of my letters to a computer, but that really is just a typing job. Holland knows of my dissatisfaction with his performance and that I told him he had given me the worst experience of my writing career by his maddening procrastinations. The Observer, of course, had no way of knowing this but should know it now. Larry L. King Washington, D.C. Dick Holland responds: If I could re-edit the Larry L. King letters book, I would add a new chapter titled “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished,” and include this unwarranted attack on me and my work. God knows it would have plenty of company among all of King’s other attacks on collaborators of all kinds. I know, because I’ve read the letters. Here are some of the things I did that contributed to the publication of the successful book of King’s selected letters: 1.In 1992 King and I packed much of the literary contents of his Washington home and shipped it to the Southwestern Writers Collection at Southwest Texas State University this included well over 10,000 pieces of correspondence. This donation was a cornerstone of the collection that had been presented to S.W.T. by Bill and Sally Wittliff in 1986. 2.I championed King’s writing in various ways during my happy tenure as Special Collections Librarian at S.W.T. This included curating and mounting a comprehensive literary exhibition that traced King’s life and career in connection with the University’s Larry L. King Festival in 1995. By this time I was familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of his letters archive and I suggested to him that we collaborate on a book. 3.In June, 1998 I sent King the 800-page manuscript of the book, seventeen months after my retirement from Southwest Texas State. By September, 1998 King and I had made numer ous corrections, deletions, and additions to the manuscript. The book was published by the T.C.U. Press in September, 1999, based on the disc I mailed them from my computer. King is correct on the point of how long the process took it was a long and arduous project that seemed to last forever and no one was happier than I to see the book completed in good form. By 1997, it was clear to me that King and I disagreed about the contents of the book. I felt that King’s strongest letters coincided with the remarkable story of his early career. This was the period 1964 to 1972, when he suddenly left the employ of Congressman Jim Wright \(and novelist and become one of America’s finest magazine journalists, as a contributing editor at Harper’s. The hundreds of good letters during this period show a gifted and ambitious young man on the rise, and they make for exhilarating reading. This heady period ended abruptly, with Willie Morris’ firing at Harper’s and the death of King’s father and second wife Rosemarie. King wanted more of an autobiography in letters. Structurally the book had a built-in problem this was the absence of any letters from the late Seventies that examined the creation and success of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas this we addressed through the device of King writing me a long letter about that period. In the end, King prevailed as he usually does, and the published book is an epistolary sampler from all time periods. Toward the end of our contact with each other, Larry found a cache of early letters \(his own copies had been destroyed in wife No. l’s bonletters from 1997, 1998, and even 1999 \(only a See “Dialogue,” page 21 VOLUME 92, NO. 9 A JOURNAL OF FREE VOICES SINCE 1954 Editors: Louis Dubose, Michael King Assistant Editor: Mimi Bardagjy Associate Editor: Nate Blakeslee Managing Publisher: Charlotte McCann Office Manager: Candace Carpenter Graphic Designer: Harrison Saunders Poetry Editor: Naomi Shihab Nye Development Director: Susan Morris Intern: Jeanne Steingraber Special Projects: Jere Locke, Nancy Williams Contributing Writers: Gabriela Bocagrande, Robert Bryce, Michael Erard, James K. Galbraith, Dagoberto Gilb, Paul Jennings, Steven G. Kellman, Lucius Lomax, Jeff Mandell, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, John Ross. Staff Photographer: Alan Pogue Contributing Photographers: Jana Birchum, Vic Hinterlang, Patricia Moore, Jack Rehm. Contributing Artists: Jeff Danziger, Beth Epstein, Valerie Fowler, Sam Hurt, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Ben Sargent, Gail Woods. Editorial Advisory Board: David Anderson, Chandler Davidson, Dave Denison, Bob Eckhardt, Sissy Farenthold, John K. Galbraith, Lawrence Goodwyn, Jim Hightower, Maury Maverick Jr., Kaye Northcott, Susan Reid. In Memoriam: Cliff Olofson, 1931-1995 Texas Democracy Foundation Board: Molly Ivins, Bernard Rapoport, Geoffrey Rips, Gilberto Ocanas. The Texas Observer \(ISSN 0040righted 2000, is published biweekly except every three weeks during January profit foundation, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. Telephone: E-mail: [email protected] World Wide Web DownHome page: . Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin, Texas. Subscriptions: One year $32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year; add $13/year for foreign subs. Back issues $3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Indexes: The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. The Books & the Culture section is partially funded through grants from the City of Austin under the auspices of the Austin Arts Commission, and the Austin Writers’ League, both in cooperation with the Texas Commission on the Arts. 2 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MAY 12, 2000