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–121– Infelicities of Style -­ Last night, I dreamed I saw Lloyd Geduldig. Dusk was fall­ ing. Alongside a grain silo just outside the town, his broad, pale face hovered low, like an early moon. The silo stood near a T-­ junction, and just behind it, tread marks cut across a field. Clumps of mud were strewn about: a tractor had recently traveled the rut, tearing up the ground. Apart from that, all was thickly covered with snow. Yes, the dream came complete with an old-­ fashioned winter, the kind we used to curse as we stamped our feet at the bus stop, the kind upstate New York has not seen these thirty years. And on the hillside, the bare trees were like pencil strokes. Just the way I remember. ————— I didn’t care if my moving arm disturbed people in the nearby seats. If the sibilant scratch of pen speeding across paper or the occasional crackle of pages turning in my spiral notebook distracted others from the action onstage, I didn’t care. I was busy pinning down my immediate, my strong reactions. I sensed obscurely that if I could capture those responses and also seize the reader with a powerful first sentence, good copy was within my grasp. But as I took notes, writing at times with such vehemence that my pen dug into the page underneath and the page behind that, –122– I sometimes wondered: who would take my writing seriously if they knew who was behind the byline? I was a freshman at the local college, just seventeen years old. The years mount and mount; the question hovers. As the applause died away, I would rush from the theater— the deadline for the morning paper fell at midnight—and make for my dorm room, settle in at the keyboard, and roll a blank sheet into the portable Olivetti, a gift from my mother when I left for college. But computers were about to become the big thing. Nobody had their own machine yet; a company called Apple donated several rooms full of them to the school, and then I would go to one of those rooms after the performance to write the review and print it out. Sometimes, especially when term papers were coming due, there was a long wait. You got the computer for forty-­ five minutes; if you needed more time, you had to log off and put your name on the list again. And there were always more people in line: some reading, some writing, some bedded down on the floor, their heads pillowed on knapsacks filled with textbooks. While I waited, I would make more scrawls in my notebook. When at last my name was called, I worked rapidly to weave my notes into something more substantial—substantial yet brief, for Lloyd had said to keep it to 750 words. ————— If I was lucky and got two free tickets, my boyfriend came too. While I wrote the review afterward, he sat patiently, headphones clamped to his ears, listening to his tapes for Japanese class. When I finished, we descended the long cobbled hill from the campus into the sleeping town. We crossed the pedestrian mall with its darkened stores, then went one block further, down State Street, past the movie palace and the tobacco-­ store Indian. The door of the newspaper office had a drop slot for nocturnal submissions , down low, near the ground. –123– The deadline met, we continued for a few blocks more, almost to the far edge of the town, to the all-­ night diner by the railroad tracks. I usually ordered chili, washed down with a strawberry milkshake; the boyfriend always had a burger with fries and a Coke. We split the check, then trudged back up to the dorms. We rarely spent the night together; we both had roommates. ————— I bolted awake early and ran out to buy the morning paper. I flipped through it, searching for my name, my words. I pulled out the extra copy of the typescript I’d kept from the night before and compared my draft with the published version, puzzling out the reasoning behind the edits. A few days later, the mail would bring an envelope addressed in tiny, crabbed script. In the enclosed note on newspaper letterhead , the editor would comment on my work, signing with his initials, L. G. “Nice work, save a few infelicities of style,” said a typical missive, following up on a piece of mine about a...


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MARC Record
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