Saturday, September 4, 2010

Would You Want Your Kid To Be A Writer? 1968

From the April 28, 1968 Chicago Tribune Magazine, there's a story about the Iowa Writers Workshop where Dad taught alongside Kurt Vonnegut, William Price Fox and Vance Bourjaily, who passed away this week.
The writer, Clarence Petersen, begins the article with a quote from my dad.
"They've forgotten how to read," says Courtlandt Dixon Barnes Bryan. "They don't see that phrase that lights you up. They've got so much to read in college that they read for all the wrong reasons.'What am I going to be asked about this'-that sort of thing".
Bryan guns the engine of his small red station wagon as we go roaring out of Iowa City where he is in his first year on the staff of the Iowa Writers Workshop. Bryan is 31, a Yale graduate, the stepson of John O'Hara, and author of the Harper Prize novel, "P.S. Wilkinson". He looks more like a teen-age idol, tall and thin with a mane of blond Beatle hair and fantastic clothes. Today it's a pale blue shirt with a white pinstripe, paisley tie, and yellow and black plaid jacket.
"I had such fun teaching the undergraduates last semester because I said: 'Let's relax. If you want an A, talk to me and I'll give you an A, but let's enjoy these books'"
Bryan's wife, Sam, is in the back seat with a green wicker table she found somewhere and loves and, on the floor wrapped in plastic, a sprawling tangly kind of vine thing that she's also crazy about. Sam is all girl, despite the name, which isn't even short for Samantha. She's bright and shiny young, stacked, and mini-skirted, with great legs. The Bryans, both of them, are just great looking people. They should be in the Newport commercials...
( After stopping off at the state liquor control commission store) the small car takes a low hill and goes roaring down the other side. To the right is a small stand of dead trees, barkless and with long wicked witch fingers, scary as the forest Snow White ran thru after the huntsman let her go. To the left, across the road is the Bryans' small farmhouse, old and weathered, rooted in mud. We run up the drive and stop.
"Look at the sunset, " says Bryan, falling back from the wheel and then stepping out of the car." Just look at that sunset!"
The article , which contains no pictures of Dad or Sam, ends with Dad suggesting the greatest writer in America just might be Mickey Spillane.

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