February 3, 2007

Double Lives: American Writers’ Friendships
Richard Lingeman

Friends, Indeed – The writer Vicki Ruzicka sent me this book during the end-of-year holidays – right when I needed it. Any artist’s life is filled with too much rejection and self-doubt. There is a strange encouragement derived from reading about the professional and personal ups-and-downs of masters like Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James and Edith Wharton, Mark Twain and William Dean Howells, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. You realize even the Great Writers have capsized in the raging waters of angst and failure – and you learn again to keep rowing as you cross the deep, mighty river of creation. (That’s the kind of flowery overstatement you find even the best writers succumbing to; but it’s true.) A week or two after finishing this good book and feeling once-again refreshed by my friend Vicki’s touching gift, I received another gift, a postcard, from another writer-friend, Jotham Burrello. “Yesterday I attended the live reading of Moby-Dick at the New Bedford Whaling Museum [in Massachusetts]," Jotham wrote. "It takes 25 hours, with two short food breaks, to complete. You would have enjoyed it.” Friends reaching out to friends. Writers supporting writers. Boats against the current, indeed.


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