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eyes, he is a success. However, she finds that he, too, has come to the point of seeing himself a failure at his art because he can’t paint what he really sees in things. They cannot acknowledge it, but they both feel themselves falling short in the quest for self. For Sally, failure means a return to the world of drudgery, the end of her dream of freedom in art (and sales!) . . . and love. On her last story, the painter had helped her, “and it seemed to her that he wrote better than she did,” but she finds out (from a character obviously based on Provincetown ’s John Francis) that he, too, is on the brink of failure, having not sold a single picture lately. They are both desperate. The picture grows bleaker as she overhears two dealers disparaging the painter’s work; they will only buy out of charity, as he is a war victim. She feels tremendous sympathy for this misunderstood artist, but in her heart she knows the dealers are right. To avoid shaming him with the fact that she has overheard the dealers, she takes a long walk, while reflecting how similar their cases are—a writer who can’t “really” write, a painter who can’t “really” paint. She takes a closer look at the story she is writing at the moment, about an old sea captain: “What a mess it was! And she had tried to make it so good. Even her opening paragraph was poor. How much better (on the other side of the page) Teddy had started it. But then, he would have made a different story of it.” Indeed, she finds, upon deciphering his notes on her manuscript, that his story was “wonderful!” This revelation leads her to his door to exhort him to take up her story as he sees it, specifically so that he will free it from being “a hybrid manuscript.” She proclaims that she wants him to do this so that she could see “just what might be done with real life.”44 The painter protests that he is no writer, but he accepts her challenge, to pursue his own idea about how her story should go, and he works all night and transforms it according to his own vision. Sally personally delivers it to an editor she knows to be vacationing in town, and the very next day comes a letter saying the story shows extraordinary promise. The painter declares that she has saved him from that limit, “just when I wanted most of all, not to be.” In an ecstasy of pride and self-confidence, he exclaims, “You must stay a week longer.” “Tonight is moonlight.” His voice was very low. “Can’t I—can’t I sit on the end of the wharf with you and—and tell you all the—the things it has been so hard—so terribly hard—not to tell you?” 96 • Another Part of a Long Story She looked at him, unable to speak. . . . And the wharf, with its worm-eaten planks, its old fish-house that had remained motionless beneath storms and moonlight, the old wharf, stood grey and imperturbable in the soft, glittering air. “Soft, glittering air”? We must bear in mind that this particular story by Boulton remained (as far I have been able to determine) unpublished. In fact, it has a crude, inconsistent quality, like what you might expect to find in Sally’s stories. Boulton, rationalizing or idealizing the terminal point of her early story-writing, transmits all artistic vision to the man she loves, someone who has a handle on old sea captains. Oddly (very oddly!), the name she chose for this young man was Teddy, the name of her own father (Edward Boulton, struggling painter, familiarly known as Teddy), quintessential object of romantic fantasy for a daughter. This Teddy was also a World War I veteran, like Agnes’s first (legendary?) husband, Burton . They blend into a man who knows sea captains and can write all night, a man she needs and loves, someone shy and resistant to “salesmanship ” pressure, someone like O’Neill. In such a man she would find a long story, though ultimately not her own. The short story stood for amateur hope, the dream that one might transform, without too many pages of work, into a successful writer. The pulp magazines in which Boulton’s stories appeared frequently included advertisements for books such as Professor Walter B...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780472027057
Related ISBN
9780472117178
MARC Record
OCLC
657217551
Pages
328
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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