A 27-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From Mid-September, 1978


Wednesday, September 13, 1978

7 PM. These are very stressful times for me. I was wide-awake last night, trying to decide what to do about LIU. I finally decided that I’m not going to take any courses there. Monetarily, the benefits would be about $35 extra a week, and at Kingsborough I’m till earning $1,100 more than I would be at LIU.

I remember how unhappy I was when I was teaching, coordinating the BC publishing conference, working for the Fiction Collective and trying to find time to write. Both courses I’m teaching are unfamiliar to me, and I have to prepare eight one-hour class lessons a week – plus mark a lot of papers.

In a way I dread leaving LIU the same way I couldn’t tear myself away from Brooklyn College when I started the M.A. program at Richmond. I’ve made many friends at LIU; I’ll miss the office kaffeeklatsch and Margaret and my little cubbyhole and the elevators and lunch at Junior’s and everything.

But I must move on. Kingsborough is a different kind of place: almost all the students are very young, fresh out of high school, nearly ten years younger than I. I have to walk a great deal across a real campus to get to my classes; it’s pleasanter than an elevator but less convenient.

The drive to school is shorter at Kingsborough, and I paid $5 for my parking permit today. I also got my ID and my mailbox; my office will be C305, right near the English Department. None of the professors talk to me, but none of them did at LIU at first; it took me several terms to get to know them.

Fall is really here. It’s dark now and it’s quite chilly. I feel very much like the kid who started Brooklyn College nine years ago. I can understand how hard it is for my students to adjust. I have made only one friend, another adjunct, Anna Bono.

My English 23 students seemed very hostile and very bored. I tried, but I could reach only a few of them. I’m going to have to help them with reading comprehension and I’ve never done that before. Anyway, it seems I have enough to do without taking on another course at LIU.

Now that Taplinger is interested in doing a book, I need time to write and revise my stories. I may be able to move out soon; I’ve got to decide what I want to do with my life. With my schedule the way it is, I don’t have to get up early at all (and tomorrow I don’t have to be in school till 3 PM and on Friday I get to leave early, at 1:40 PM).

I am having fun with my English 11 students; we seem to like each other. I gave them an essay to do today: “Who Are You? What Are You Doing Here?” I will have to take some of them to somebody in charge, as about ten of the students don’t think they belong in a remedial course and they certainly write better than the students I had in remedial at LIU.

I can’t blame them for being upset about taking a 5-hour course for only 2 credits. But it’s bad that I have to deal with their resentment. Anyway, I am interested in my classes and I welcome the challenge of teaching them: it’s a lot like teaching high school.

The Helen Review accepted “Complacencies of the Peignoir,” my first acceptance of any value in months. Even though it’s a one-page “story,” I’m glad they took it. Right now I face difficulty in writing my name.

Thursday, September 14, 1978

7 PM. Against my better judgment, I took a course at LIU: English 12, the C hour – 10 AM on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I’ll have only an hour and a half to get to my 12:40 PM class at Kingsborough. God knows when I’ll get a chance to write or to socialize or to live. Hard work does scare me.

During my English 11 class today, I felt myself slipping out of my body, that old anxiety-attack feeling. I let it flow over me, the way Weekes and others say you’re supposed to do, and it passed fairly quickly.

I took the class at LIU because I wanted to. I know that. Margaret awoke me out of a dream this morning and I told her I couldn’t teach a class from 10 AM to 12 PM. But then I raced over to LIU, giving Margaret a list of the hours I could be available; tonight Dr. Tucker called me. I have to rush over for a meeting after my class at Kingsborough, but I’ll manage.

If I can get through the next two weeks, which will be very hectic (especially with Dad going in for surgery), I can get through the term – because the holidays come up and then midterms and the term at Kingsborough ends before Christmas.

Mondays and Wednesdays will be the worst, with three classes from 10 AM to 4 PM. Thursdays will be easy with one class from 3-4 PM. Tuesdays I can sleep late, and on Friday I’ll be finished early. But this is my first full-time job and I’m scared.

The fact that I’ll be making $3,100 over the next 4 months doesn’t excite me because the money isn’t real to me yet. Never having had any money of my own, I can’t imagine what that kind of salary will mean. I suppose I can manage, and I shouldn’t anticipate trouble.

I haven’t been writing much anyway lately and maybe I’ve had too much time rather than too little. But I’ve never worked five days a week before, and so much has been thrown at me all at once.

I have sore legs from walking across the campus and a sore throat from teaching, and while I turned my back, summer disappeared: you couldn’t go out without a jacket today.

Maybe what scares me is that I’m now actually becoming an adult, fully able to take care of himself. It’s overwhelming. I called Alice and she was thrilled that I’m not going to Albany.

I spoke to Teresa, who was depressed that her lover, Ray, split for New Mexico after a big argument: in just six weeks they had become very close.

Bill-Dale replied to my letter with all the intolerant idealism he possesses. He was very turned off by my “cynicism about the 60s” and my pragmatism. His philosophy is very mixed-up, but then, he is 21:

Yes, we do come from two different generations. Yes, you have lost the idealism of youth. I have no desire to see that much of you, but I would still like to see you to interview for the book [his project on bisexuality, obviously some sort of self-justification]. The one thing which energizes me is meeting driven, idealistic people. Meeting idealists turned pragmatists (it’s 1978 and we’re older now, Jerry Rubin’s Growing Up premise) or 70s apathetic, I can tolerate but I don’t go out of the way for.

Love & strength,

Twerp. No, I can’t write him off like that. He’s just young and I was like him once. Though he hates smugness, he is smug: the way we were so self-righteous about everything eight or ten years ago. I think I’ll use his three letters as a story.

“Portrait of the Idealist as a Young Man” or something, perhaps? I’d include my own letters, but that might make it less interesting. Bill-Dale is looking for a carbon copy of himself, and he’ll never find it. (I know.)

Yesterday Brad had yet another ad in the Voice: “Love is blind and cannot find me.” I wrote him back: “Love may be blind, but I’ve got contact lenses.”

Friday, September 15, 1978

5 PM. I was very upset last evening and finally phoned Martin Tucker and told him I couldn’t take the course. He was pissed but said he understood. God knows why I did it that way. My intentions were good, he said as he marched off to the netherworld.

I seem to have trouble, as Mrs. Ehrlich pointed out, moving from one stage of life to the next. I always end up breaking ties in a stupid way (vide Baumbach and the Fiction Collective, my therapists, whatever). But now I’m at Kingsborough and I’m happy. I can get an apartment and somehow I’ll get the rent paid.

I don’t have to drive myself crazy. I can sleep late and have time for writing and enjoying life. Albany is out. Maybe I’ve fucked things up again – God knows, my parents believe that and they disapprove of my decision – but this is what I’m comfortable with.

The extra $675 just wasn’t worth it to me. To feel relaxed, as I do now, for the first time all week, is worth a great deal more. I’ll still be making over $2100 for the term, more money than I’ve ever earned, and I have a real job.

I am becoming adjusted to Kingsborough: today I found my office, a lovely room overlooking the first floor where the students congregate, with my own phone extension and a filing cabinet and room to move around in.

My English 23 class went very well today. I have their trust now, and I’m really looking forward to the term. So if I’ve fucked things up, I’m ending up feeling pretty happy. I don’t feel oppressed now and I’m as comfortable in my classrooms as I ever was – maybe even more so. (I think it has something to do with a more fluid environment; things are looser than at LIU.)

And I’ll be able to bring in money. Yesterday a check for $25 arrived from Mississippi Mud: part of their CCLM grant, Joel Weinstein wrote.

Today is a cool, dark, drizzly day, a perfect day to end the week, a day you can get lost in.

Oh, maybe last night had something to do with Bill-Dale’s letter; I woke up in the middle of the night feeling angry at him: Who is he to judge me? He’s 21 and I was 21 in 1972 and probably just as smart and snot-nosed as he is. God, young people can be so pompous and self-righteous and intolerant!

When I was 21, I knew everything. Of course I’d never worked a day in my life. I know I haven’t had a hard time of it, but since then I did work for $2 an hour shelving books in the library and being a messenger and a department store clerk (all while I had a master’s degree), and after I had two masters’ degrees, I worked in a nursing home.

Yes, I’ve had an easy life, but I’ve seen more of life than Bill-Dale Bonhoffer has. He makes the 60s his god; well, I prefer to live in the present, whether that means the 70s or the 80s or the 90s. (What do they call the first decade of the new century anyway? The Single Numbers?)

Anyway, I’ve discovered that 21-year-olds are less mature than I am. Do I feel smug? No. Bill-Dale is the one with all the answers: love, magic, V-signs. No wonder Kent State and the Chicago convention police riot happened: even though the young people (we) were right, we were insufferable about being right.

So I’m a bit too cynical, a bit too superior (my worst stories are those in which I feel superior to my characters). Give me time: I’m sure that the older I get, the more unsure of myself I will be.

Saturday, September 16, 1978

8 PM. I am feeling comfortable with myself. I like the way I look, and even if I’m a fuck-up, I do seem to be doing all right. Elaine Taibi called yesterday to say that she was looking through a stack of Flatbush Lifes when she found the article about me.

She liked “Hitler” and found it very moving. She and Maddy were trying to think up a way to get me into the Alumni Bulletin without my knowing it; they’re under the mistaken assumption that I’m modest.

I went out to dinner at the Floridian, and when I returned, Brad called. “I said I’d call you after Labor Day,” he told me. “I just didn’t say which Labor Day.”

Brad reminded me that we’ve known each other over nine years “although we’ve probably had 27 minutes of conversation in all that time.”

He put the ad in the Voice because Danny has gone away to Dartmouth, and though their relationship had lasted for two and a half years (an incredibly long time, to my way of thinking), it was time to move on.

Brad can’t stand the thought of being alone; he’s really a very conservative homebody. In fact, he’s going to move out of Manhattan when his lease expires next year: he doesn’t really take advantage of the Manhattan nightlife, and he says that 14th Street is becoming very seedy.

He’s still Brad, still playing the big brother, concerned about growing old, very practical but melodramatic. Anyway, we said we’d get together one of these days – which probably means 1980.

I picked Alice up at 7:30 PM, just when she and her mother were about to have one of their usual sessions. Alice is leaving for Europe in a couple of weeks and her mother’s following her in early October; Kat will be provided for by a trio of good-natured friends who will alternate feeding days.

Alice, on the drive downtown, told me that she’s having fights with Peter and even began responding to Voice ads again. We were a bit afraid to get out by the church on Willoughby Street, but finally we did and went upstairs as Charlene Victor, the very down-to-earth culture czar of Brooklyn, was extolling the virtues of the Downtown Cultural Center and singing the praises of Janice and her co-coordinator.

We saw a scene from a playwriting workshop, some simulated acting lessons, heard a jazz group, and downstairs we looked at the paintings and sculpture. Dolores was there, looking as strong and vibrant as ever – and Harry Steinberg the pornographer and hack writer – and Richard, Janice’s painter friend who administers the Visual Arts program out in Hempstead.

I spoke to all of them and to some calligraphers. One woman told me she’s known Louis Strick for years and “he does things that lose money, just for the love of it.” Janice showed us her résumé, which lists me and Alice as references!

The spirit of that place is something to see – there’s a great deal of energy there. I wish I was poor enough to apply for a CETA job so I could teach writing in a place like that.

Janice said that she can’t get critics from Manhattan to come to the Downtown Cultural Center exhibits because no one believes any worthwhile art could possibly come out of Brooklyn. They’re such snobs.

When I took Alice back into Manhattan, we stopped at the Eighth Street Bookshop, where I found Disjointed Fictions right in the front of their window! I was exultant.

As I drove home to Brooklyn, I felt that I had conquered New York. I’m in love with this city, its energy and diversity, and I don’t want to leave. Like the TV commercials say, I love New York.

I got home just in time to see the final rounds of the Ali-Spinks rematch and to see Ali crowned heavyweight champ for the third time. I think he’s the greatest man in America today: at 36, to keep fighting. In the spring I was sickened by his defeat, but last night his victory gave me new hope. I just hope he gives up boxing for good now.

This afternoon Josh and I went to a very crowded poetry reading at The Ear Inn and heard John Ashbery and Michael Lally. We couldn’t get seats and we couldn’t even see them, so we left early.

Sunday, September 17, 1978

8 PM. It’s been a terrific weekend and it’s too bad it has to end. But I don’t have to get up early in the morning and that’s a blessing.

I spent most of the day with Ronna. I didn’t realize how much I missed her until I saw her. She looked terrific, thinner than I’ve ever known her to be. I walked in while she was drying her hair.

Alison, who was at Mass, finally decided to take an apartment in Canarsie, a few blocks from Ronna’s house. Ronna’s sister loves her job at the health clinic in the Bronx and is seeing a guy she works with who lives in Rockaway.

Ronna and I drove out to Long Island on the Interboro, Grand Central and Northern State; as we drove, we talked about we’ve been doing. And Ronna told me about her friend Pat in University Park, and Phil the smelly British weightlifter and how her grandmother stopped talking to all her relatives over invitations to various affairs.

We walked around the mall in Roosevelt Field and had Ollieburgers for lunch in Lum’s as we discussed life in academia. Her job at Metro is basically a bimmie position, but it’s a holding action; things should go better when Susan returns from Europe. (Susan, incidentally, does not think that badly of me, and John actually likes me a lot).

Evan keeps trying to set Ronna up with his friends but that’s mostly sublimation; also, he’ll feel more secure with Susan if Ronna’s paired off with a guy. The young law student, Jordan, still sounded like the nicest one to me.

Back at my house, we made love – it was very sweet. I’m crazy about Ronna that way; I like making her feel good. She wonders sometimes if it’s wise of us to continue to have a physical relationship, but there’s no reason not to: it doesn’t stop either of us from looking elsewhere.

And I only feel possessive when we’re alone in bed; otherwise I’ve managed not to be jealous. Today she was telling me about the guy in Middletown who was married and how she used to ride with him on his motorcycle to Hershey.

I love Ronna as though she were my sister. I suppose it’s naïve to say that and undoubtedly it will all backfire one day, but for now our relationship is working well. I am gay, after all – or that’s the excuse I give for not allowing myself to get hurt with her.

I say “I love you” to Ronna but she doesn’t reciprocate; still, she makes it clear how she feels about me. One thing she can’t stand is my pomposity and self-importance about my work, but today she said she’s beginning to think that all the things I say about myself are true.

Yesterday’s reading at the Ear Inn was a bust – Josh and I are going to try to go back next month to see Eileen Myles – but it did inspire me to write some prose poems last night. I think I’ve found a form that suits what I’ve been trying to say of late. I have a renewed confidence in my work.

The Westbere Review took “In The Sixties,” one of my better pieces, and that plus the Helen Review acceptance, seeing The People’s Almanac 2 piece, and getting a check from Mississippi Mud all make me feel that I still have it.

Actually, things are going so well, I’m almost terrified. What payments will Fate demand in return for all this? Next week is Dad’s surgery and I’m trying not to think too much about it. I suppose he’s doing the same thing.

Avis sent a postcard from the Côte de Azur, where she, Helmut and Heinz are sunning themselves, eating delicious French meals and getting the summer that missed Bremen this year.

The past week has turned out to be one of the nicest of the year: only good things seemed to happen. I feel lucky and I know this can’t last so I’m going to enjoy it while I can.

Monday, September 18, 1978

7 PM. I’m very glad I decided not to teach at LIU. I would have been a total wreck if I had to run around so much. Although I spend only about four hours at Kingsborough, they are smack in the middle of the day and I relish the spare time I have on either side of classes.

My English 23 class is very dense and they can’t seem to adjust to having such a young teacher. One woman in particular, a nursing student, gave me a rough time. At LIU, my whiteness made me stand out, and so my age didn’t seem very much of a factor. At Kingsborough I look indistinguishable from most of the students.

I heard one guy say that he could teach the class; it looks a lot easier than it is, of course. But anyway, this is their problem, not mine. After teaching for almost four years, I’ve got no hang-ups about being in front of the classroom. I’m getting paid well enough so that I can stand my students’ obnoxiousness – and they can get a surprise when their final grade comes.

I planned out most of my week’s lessons, but there’s still more preparation to be done. Things will get easier after these two weeks when we have four holidays in the following two weeks. By then I should be used to the students and they should be used to me.

Last night President Carter announced that the Camp David summit had ended with an agreement on basic principles between Egypt and Israel.

A final peace treaty is months away, if it ever comes (and there are rumblings that it might not), but it was thrilling to see President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin hugging each other and pledging friendship. And certainly this can only help Carter with his popularity problems.

Today was a humid, drizzly day, very uncomfortable. I worked on sending out submissions after I got home from school; there doesn’t seem to be enough time to work on my stories and poetry.

Suddenly I feel I have nothing more to write, and that scares and frustrates me. Other days I could write dozens of pages, maybe even a novel.

Tuesday, September 19, 1978

5 PM. I think what I was feeling last night was dissatisfaction. My English 23 class is so immature that I can hardly get through a lesson with them. They interrupt, giggle, make silly noises: I’ve never had such a bad class.

I understand now that the “C.C.” after Kingsborough stands for Country Club rather than Community College for most students. It’s a glorified extension of high school.

The English 11 students have just come in and so they don’t understand the system yet; I can deal with them more effectively. Of course I’m not going to let the students get to me; I’m getting paid $22 an hour regardless of whether they learn anything or not.

But they are so stupid. They can’t make simple cognitive leaps of understanding, and like most stupid people, they think they know everything. I will fail some of them with satisfaction when the term ends.

Last night and during my office hour today, I thought a great deal about college teaching; I’m not sure I want to make a career out of it. Even when I finally get to teach fiction writing, I’m sure I’ll have to spend most of my efforts correcting grammatical mistakes. Literacy has declined to such shocking levels that I believe it’s the number-one problem for America’s future.

I get no satisfaction from the enormous sense of superiority I feel vis-à-vis most people: Who is going to be around to read anything I write? Even a very bright young man like Bill-Dale makes mistakes (his apostrophes on plurals, for example) that my fourth grade teacher would have reprimanded me for.

And I’ve begun to spot errors like “the team lost it’s [sic] first game” in magazines like Time and Newsweek – and even on our Kingsborough schedule form we are told where to find the “Admission’s” office. God. Our heroes today – Travolta, the Fonz – are dumb and inarticulate, whereas 1950s idols like Brando and James Dean were bright and inarticulate.

Anyway, what does this all mean for me? Well, maybe I should get out of college teaching and get into something more intellectual. I might enjoy an office job like Alison’s in a citadel of literacy like Oxford University Press. Office work means a 9-to-5 day, but at least you’re not “on” all the time as you are when you teach.

I’m going to look around for a job, and in December, when the term ends, I’m going to attempt to get employment outside academia. I enjoyed working in the Fiction Collective office and maybe I could get something that challenging again.

This morning I stood on line at the bank behind a guy who just sold his business (three record stores) for $250,000 – and he wasn’t much older than me. Now he intends to “retire” for a couple of years and concentrate on a travel agency, which he runs for the sheer pleasure of it.

The more money I earn, the more important money becomes to me. Richard’s writing PR for Resorts International seems no less noble than trying to teach sentence structure to idiots. Why should I keep banging my head against the wall?

Academia is as stifling as advertising; at least Kingsborough and LIU are. After four years, maybe it’s time to call it quits. I can always go back when I’m more established as a writer and get the brightest classes.

It’s dark and chilly out. Our first paychecks will come on October 20 and that will make me feel a little better – but not all that much.

Wednesday, September 20, 1978

8 PM. Surprisingly, I feel very sexy tonight. I looked at myself in the mirror and I saw a handsome face – round and a bit chubby but good-looking.

I started using a roll-on deodorant rather than a spray, and somehow that feels more sensuous. I’ve got new short-sleeved shirts, and since the summer I’ve been wearing colored bikini briefs instead of the dull white ones. My beard has gotten thicker and darker and I’m even getting some more hair on my chest.

One thing I suppose I haven’t written about Kingsborough is that it’s given me a chance to look at some gorgeous guys about 17 to 19. I must pass fifty guys a day that I’m attracted to. That doesn’t bother or frustrate me at all; it does make me feel very alive.

Yesterday was a bad day and so I had complaints; today was a good day and I feel great about teaching. I asserted myself with the English 23 class today and we had a pretty good discussion on the reading, an essay on capital punishment.

Rosa Cordero, the Puerto Rican woman, still bursts out laughing every time she sees me, but she’s not an idiot. (There are more than a few in the class: people who must be actual morons.)

She told the class about her cousin, who drowned his little boy in the Narrows a few weeks ago. He went out with the child and returned without him. When his family became frantic, he said he’d take them to him; he stopped by the Verrazano Bridge and pointed into the bay. “He’s at the bottom now,” he told them.

And he had previously killed three of his other children! What kind of monsters live in this world? The class was of course horrified by this story, but Rosa takes it calmly. Her cousin has spent time in Kings County Hospital but is out often, and this time the judge dismissed charges against him. I would like to learn more about this incident; I just can’t imagine such a thing happening.

My English 11 class was good because I had a brainstorm. We went over an essay in the third person and I decided to split the class into pairs and let them interview each other and then write a paragraph about each other.

It worked, and they were pretty enthusiastic; one of them even interviewed me. I’ll read them out loud tomorrow and go over their errors. I enjoyed teaching today, and my week is three-quarters over: just one class tomorrow and Friday.

Alice sent me a Polaroid snapshot of Disjointed Fictions in the window of the Eighth Street Bookshop. I called Alice to thank her and she said Andreas had taken it on the weekend, when they found Laurie sitting out front on her break, smoking a joint.

Laurie even rearranged the window so they could get a good shot; she has the book on display upstairs, too. God, I have such nice friends.

I called Mason, and he’s having a devil of a time with his junior high students. They’re as wild as anything, won’t let him teach, and they won’t give him a break. Mason has such a hard time asserting himself and he’s still got all of his 60s ideas of progressive, “open” education.

Well, if he’s to survive – and he’s already thought about quitting – Mason’s got to act tough and not give the little monsters an inch. I told Mason we should both emulate John Houseman as dictatorial law Prof. Kingsfield on The Paper Chase (now a TV show).

This evening I went to visit Grandpa Herb and Grandma Ethel, who showed me the lengthy questionnaire that nutrition doctor gave her.

It covers everything – not only about herself but her parents and siblings. (She was told that her mother died at 29 of “malnutrition” and doesn’t know much more than that.)

Grandma Ethel had to write down everything she ate all week. She had Arlyne help her with the questionnaire. I noticed that Grandma’s periods began at 14 and ended at 45 and she didn’t check the box about whether her sex life was satisfactory. Grandma Ethel did check “depressed,” “jumpy” and “worried” but not “irritable,” which sounds about right.

Thursday, September 21, 1978

7 PM. Just a couple of hours before the official beginning of autumn, yet summer is still with us. It was hot and sunny and humid today; there’s really no need for it now, though.

Dad and Mom went to see his surgeon today. Dad enters Brookdale on Sunday, with the operation scheduled for Monday morning. I think Mom wanted me to take off from work, but Marc will be with her, and there’s not anything I can do at the hospital. Working will help keep me occupied during the long (five-hour) and intricate surgery.

Dad’s pretty frightened, as he should be. I’ve tried to keep from upsetting him any further. Like him, I just wish it was all over and we knew the tumor was benign.

I went to Kingsborough at 2:45 PM, just pulling up to the T-4 building in time for my 3 PM class. I had a delightful time as I read the students’ essays about one another – and I turned it into a clinic of writing problems. I get along well with the English 11 class; I just wish I had the same rapport with the other class.

I haven’t been writing much this week, but I’ve been submitting a great deal; I used up almost $15 worth of stamps. I’ve been trying to submit a bit more shrewdly, using skill in matching the story to the publication.

Sue Stephens of Tailings, who had previously accepted my “Conjectures” and “The Fiction Writer and His Friends,” sent me a Xeroxed letter asking for submissions for a “mini-chapbook” of 12-16 pages. I sent along a lot of material for her to consider.

I’d really like to concentrate on books now. Richard Meade of the Story Press of Chicago sent a delightful letter, saying he’d love to do a collection, but it’s dependent upon a number of things, including grants and a return on the investment for their original books (including one by V.S. Pritchett).

I wrote back, encouraging him to keep me in mind a year from now; it can’t hurt to have a back-up system in case Taplinger falls through. (I’m getting annoyed that I haven’t heard from either of the Stricks in nearly two weeks.)

SUNY-Albany’s financial aid director wrote me that there’s no work/study money for the spring, and even their NDSL loans are filled up. So I’m not going to Albany and that settles it. I just can’t afford it. Well, that’s one reason.

David wrote me from Bath, Maine. I feel bad I never got back to him the weekend he was here for his brother’s wedding. He went to Bread Loaf again in the summer and was in Gilmore again. There was a party with girls at the house every night:

We had one wild poet who was going to hold a ‘Worst Poetry’ conference, but he left after the first week. I chose Gardner again as my Reader. He told me that I had ironed out all the mechanical problems that I had in ’77, but all the excitement of the novel had been drained. He said it was ‘dull.’ Maybe that reflects my life up here in Maine. I’m still working in my father’s factory, so a lot of my energy goes to recuperating from 9 hours of walking on the ole feet.

David says the food and weather were better this year at Bread Loaf, though The Crumb newsletter wasn’t as funny. And much of the instruction was repetitious, so David won’t return again. He’s decided to shelve his novel (“I did learn one cold fact – actually it was rubbed in my face: No matter who you work with, your name doesn’t mean anything until you are published.”)

He sent me a pretty good story and I wrote him back with suggestions.