In a 1976 letter to Chris Cannon who handled publicity for Friendly Fire at G P Putnam's Sons
|J Bryan III|
I suppose the major teacher of the craft has been my father, J. ( Joseph) Bryan III, who was an associate editor of the Saturday Evening Post for years, has written several non-fiction books, a biography of Admiral William F. Halsey, P.T. Barnum, and many articles in the old Post, Colliers, Life, Esquire and more recently the old Holiday and now Travel & Leisure.
While I'm at it, let me throw in two more: the first was a quote passed across his desk to me at the New Yorker by Bill Maxwell, it's by W.B. Yeats: "Only that which does not teach, which does not cry out, which does not condescend, which does not explain is irresistible." I now have that framed and hanging on my roll top like an exhortation from Chairman Mao.
|W B Yeats|
The other is from an interview with Anthony Powell in a recent NYTBR which helps to explain the why and how of writing: "The great thing about writing is its two stages: first trying to make yourself understand; then, putting it to other people. The first is the most difficult."
There had to be some way to understand the Vietnam War, to contain it in a frame of reference I ( we) could deal with. The point of Friendly Fire, or certainly a point, is that there is no enemy, there is only war.