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C H A R L E S L. A D A M S University of Nevada, Las Vegas The Genesis of Flight From Fiesta In 1984, while editing Frank Waters: A Retrospective Anthology, I thought it important to point out, in the very first footnote, what I con­ sider to be one of the major complications in Waters scholarship—namely, that the publication dates of the various works very often bear no relation­ ship to the dates of actual composition. The Yogi of Cockroach Court, for example, was written in 1927, rewritten in 1937 and again in 1945, and was first published in 1947. And The Woman at Otowi Crossing was rewritten at least four times between 1956 and its publication ten years later. While the work of some authors may reveal a simple chronological evidence of growth and development which may be easily divided into “phases” or “periods” for the convenience of analysis and comparison, Waters himself has prevented this kind of critical categorizing. In contem­ porary American literature, Waters is exceptional in this respect. In an age in which readers eagerly await a writer’s “latest” work, Waters stands apart as a man who, following Horace’s advice to put literary endeavors away for ten years and then review them, often extends a work over a long period of time, sometimes sustaining its development for decades. I concluded that footnote in the anthology by noting that I was aware of one very beautiful novel “in cold storage” at the time of that writing. The novel was, of course, Flight From Fiesta, which I had read in manu­ script form (and before its final reworking) in August of 1977. Waters scholars have hypothesized about circumstances of the novel’s origin and about the time of its first composition. Alexander Blackburn recently wrote me, “Linguistic and structural counterpointing make the style unmistak­ ably Waters’.” But he then raises the question, “Waters when?”1 And Eugene Kretschmer has pointed out stylistic similarities between Flight From Fiesta and The Man Who Killed the Deer.2 196 Western American Literature In loaning the manuscript to me, Waters had enclosed a letter detail­ ing its history. Later, I had other questions, which he graciously answered in detail. With his permission, I would like, with this article, to put an end to some of the scholarly speculation about Flight From Fiesta by sharing parts of the Waters correspondence. It is perhaps apparent that stylistically Flight is not entirely a product of the late 1980s. An expression such as an “evil look of depravity,” for example, suggests as Blackburn noted, an earlier Waters.3But readers may be surprised to learn that Flight was originally conceived in 1957. This means that the first draft falls after Masked Gods (1950), before Leon Gaspard (1958), and about the same time that Waters was working on the second draft (of four) of The Woman at Otowi Crossing and the final draft of The Earp Brothers of Tombstone. Flight From Fiesta was originally written, in 1957, as a film treatment, with the title The Flight, for Cinemark II Productions of Santa Fe. Accord­ ing to Waters, “The requirement was a warm simple story which could be produced without the expense of theatrical sets. . . . It required only the rental of a suite in the La Fonda hotel in Santa Fe, all other footage being taken in outdoor scenic settings.”4From the beginning, the story was con­ ceived of as being the relationship between “an old drunken Indian and a spoiled rich White girl of ten.” It was a relatively simple assignment for Waters, who adopted a simple “chase” formula, replete with drama and suspense. Originally, the story was composed all in the present tense, customary for a movie “treatment.” (Clark Kimball, editor of the Rydal Press edition of Flight, has told me of wrestling with the final residual tense problems.)5 According to Waters, he then rewrote the story as a detailed screenplay or shooting script. It is worth remembering Waters’ previous experience in Hollywood as a screenwriter, in 1941 and 1945, and also again in 1957. The film was never made. Waters had been salaried only during his writing of the...


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