For several minutes neither one could remember.
"It couldn't 've been unimportant," Manley laughed. "Oh - I remember. American writers. Here they come - there they go." He sipped from the watered drink unprotestingly. "That's it - wanted to finish my thought." He closed his eyes, straining to bring the subject back into focus.
" 'Merican writers, full o' promise, tremendous promises; when they die, still promising. Can't seem to keep their promises. Hart Crane - all Hart Cranes, the best of 'em. Even Ernest. Ernest's a promising writer. Maybe the most promosing we ever had."
Suddenly his hand flew up in an ascending line. "European writers, like that - but 'merican writers, like this -" His hand cheked its upward flight and nosedived back to the table. "Know why?"
"I think I do," Shep said. "Their unrealistic approach to..."
"Oh, I read Granville Hicks too. Trouble with all our writers is they never read Marx. Poe, Melville, Dickinson, all of 'em frustrated 'cause they didn't worship Marx. Booshwah. Banana oil. Baloney. Reason's economic, all right. But more complicated. Writer starts as rebel. His out at his own roots. Spoon River. Sauk Center. Pottsville country club - wherever it is. Book's a sucess - writer's like a racehorse - moves up in class. Gets money - goes away - New York - Europe - starts writing things he doesn't know - shoulda stayed home. Stayed put. Shoulda stood in bed. That's trouble with 'merican writers. Most of 'em. Success uproots 'em. Isolates 'em. Europe, a book is a book, a leaf o' literature. America, a book's a commodity, even the honest book, if it clicks, if it goes over big. Maybe lucky thing about Faulkner. Never went over big. Just a few thousand to read 'im and know what he is. Bill stays put. Writes people he knows, and his old man knew, and his old man. Sense o' past. Sense o' place. Sense o' roots..."