The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 98
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
of me that I said when I finished it that I'd never try again to compass
all of a subject in any one book. I have several books in me to finish but
must admit they do not seem terribly important. I want to sit down and
talk a long while with you and a few other gay lads."
It was not long after when he and I did just that. He came back to
southern California-he had written The Mustangs while a Fellow at the
Huntington Library-to speak to the Friends of the UCLA Library. As
the Librarian then, I looked after him as our honored guest. His lec-
ture was to take place on campus in the afternoon. After lunch we kept
bogging down, as he wanted to look at every book. He was impressed
by our Special Collections facilities and its head, Wilbur Smith, so much
so that he declared that if Texas didn't do as well or better for his collec-
tion, he would damn well give it to us. Maybe that's what got Harry H.
Ransom to create the Dobie Room, which is one of the glories of the
A greater delay occurred on our way out of the building when he
recognized one of the custodians as an old wrangler he had known long
years before. I had to drag him away to the now restless full house that
That night after a lively dinner with those "gay lads"-when can we
reclaim that word?-I drove him to his hotel in Westwood on the edge
of campus. Neither of us was ready to turn in. We sat up in his room till
long after midnight, talking about what we had not written. I asked him
why he had not gone deeper in Tongues of the Monte, where I sensed so
much had been veiled. "There are novels there," I said, "just crying to
be let out."
"I was born too soon," he said sadly. "I hope you'll have more free-
dom than I've had." He went on to speak of restrictive social mores,
which constituted a subtle kind of censorship.
In talking about our favorite earthy and erotic literature-Rabelais,
Casanova, Mark Twain, Frank Harris, and D. H. Lawrence are the au-
thors I recall-I confessed to having written a novel which, though it
contained no explicit sex or taboo words, was still too frank for the mi-
lieu which surrounded me. I promised to send him the manuscript
when he was back home.
A month or so later he wrote me these encouraging words: "The
juices of life are in this book, as they are in you. That is what nothing
from the outside can give. All the writers conferences and courses in
writing and editors in the world are impotent when their pupils lack
the essential vitality. It would be easier to extract the salt out of the
Arctic Ocean and pump the water to L.A. than to pump vitality into a
single writer and his writing. The setting and the circumstances as well
as tender love are beautifully, poignantly done."
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989, periodical, 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/m1/125/: accessed June 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.