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Unpublished Archive
1987-1992. In 2002, James Harmon edited Take My Advice: Letters to the Next Generation from People Who Know a Thing or Two, the compiled wisdom of more than 70 writers, artists, critics and other notable figures. Harmon had begun his project more than a decade earlier but was waylaid by negotiations with publishers over the advisors and advice to be included in the book. This archive includes 16 manuscript or typescript responses not included in the book, by Edward Albee, Paul Auster, Nicholson Baker, Rick Bass, Jim Burke, Frederick Busch, Evan Connell, Roald Dahl, Herbert Gold, Witold Gordon, Thom Gunn, Barry Lopez, Jill McCorkle, Walker Percy, Hubert Selby, and Tom Wolfe. Each response is signed by its author. Edward Albee offers an autograph note signed, with the advice "Live as though your life depended on it." Paul Auster declines to advise, although in an autograph letter signed he does say that "Once I reach moral perfection in my own life, then maybe I'll have something to say to others." Nicholson Baker's autograph note signed apologizes for not pulling himself together and responding (his letter is dated 2-5 years after the others). Rick Bass's typed letter signed advises (with supportive reasoning) reading, walking in the woods, wearing one's seatbelt, being prepared for others' greed exceeding one's passion, and taking big jumps. James Lee Burke's 1990 typed letter signed, with holograph corrections and postscript, waxes political, in small part: "In my view we have made some very bad national choices in the last twenty-five years and have allowed hucksters, actors, and militarists to convince us that greed and power politics are not only acceptable ethically but are also genuine values that are part of our tradition." His advice is phrased as more of a hope, that the next generation does a better job. Frederick Busch, in a humble typed letter signed, opines that "writers don't give advice, they enflesh mistakes," but he does come around to offering several sentences in the vein of "...the most and best of what I know about art and the life it salutes: Otherness is what most of this seems to be about--the celebration of what is not the self, the adoration of those who are not the self, the caretaking of those outside our bodies, psyches, histories..." Evan Connell's typed note signed states, "Do not trust the leaders. They may or may not be telling the truth. And regardless of their integrity, or lack thereof, many of them are quite stupid." Roald Dahl's offer, in a typed note signed, is: "Be kind to all men and women and children and if you are a male endeavour to lose your inherent aggression as soon as you possibly can." Herbert Gold, in a typed letter signed, contributes seven sentences, each saying some version of "Read." Witold Gordon, in an autograph note signed, notes that any advice he had for his own generation "went (sensibly?) unheeded" but suggests that the next generation "not be fruitful and not multiply to any great extent." Thom Gunn, in an autograph note signed, declines to contribute as he can't think of anything that would be appropriately universal and confesses he would tend to the subversive. Barry Lopez first sends a typed postcard signed agreeing to contribute and then follows through with two typed pages (unsigned) that eloquently delve into three rules for humans in general and another three for writers in particular, in brief: (for all) to pay attention, to take nothing for granted, to be discerning; and (for writers) to read, to stand for something, and to get out of town. Jill McCorkle's autograph postcard signed agrees to participate, but if she did, her contribution is not included here. Walker Percy's autograph letter signed urges self-knowledge: "Unless you are a genius or a saint, you do not know who you are or why you find yourself in this life. If this is the case, you'd better find out. This means undertaking a search. The main sin of someone in this situation is not undertaking the search." Hubert Selby explicitly internalizes the search, in a typed letter signed: "We all have an absolutely perfect guidance system within us, but we haven't learned how to listen to it...We become what we teach...And ultimately there is only one way of teaching anything and that is how we LIVE!" Selby also cautions that one should neither seek nor accept advice, that instead one should find someone with the same problem, ask them what they did and what the results were of their action. And Tom Wolfe, in an autograph note signed, concludes with, "As soon as you know your answer is no, say no; don't wait for a more appropriate moment." All items are near fine or better. Most of the original mailing envelopes are included. Included is a copy of the book as published, lacking all of the above authors and their wisdom. A virtual alternate-book, with responses equally as interesting and/or thought-provoking as the published ones. .
      [Bookseller: Ken Lopez Bookseller, ABAA]
Last Found On: 2013-01-28           Check availability:      IOBABooks    

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