Read an Excerpt
From the opening entry of Early in the Season:
June 6, 1968
Left New York on a smoggy but hot, cloudless day, from Kennedy Airportthis the day after Robert Kennedy’s assassination. Everyone stupid with sorrow, poring over the papers or glued to the interminable radio commentary, and silent, no one telling others the latest “news,” which is no pleasure to repeat in even the smallest of its particulars. The parting from my wife was doubly disconnected because of the discomforts of her pregnancy (beginning fifth month), though doctor yesterday said it was all right for me to leave. We’re so very recently married that I haven’t got used to using her namesay “my wife” instead of “Marion,” though our beginning otherwise seems auspicious. The baby is wanted, now that our hasty, belated wedding is past, and we have love. We live in a quiet bit of Manhattan, at the eye of a hundred-mile hurricane of suburbs, etc., so that one begins by getting out of and above all this flux. I like living right at the hot centre, of course, but I’m also very tired of it. With the baby coming, I expect to be gone only a couple of months; that is our agreement, sealed after she chose to conceive. I’m tired physically and emotionally from an enormously productive spring, and I find, too, less of the boyish readiness that activated my travels to British Columbia two years ago. But the encouraging thing, if you read memoirs, journals, and such, is how very much people accomplish in a couple of months. This was true for some of the major explorers of the past like Mackenzie, as well as John Muir, and various eccentric side-figures like James Capen Adams, whose adventures I happened to read yesterday. Two concentrated months are potentially a long time. Whoever I see, whatever I write, I’ll be exhausted by August. As usual, my plans are informal, except that they open up possibilitiesas will fatherhood, next November!
Mostly today I’m transporting my bodyand a good feeling too, to be getting away from the wretched redundancy, the cruel platitudes of the funereal. After Jack’s death in 1963, I went to a Giants game I’d previously bought a ticket for, then walked one hundred eighty blocks home from the stadium. These Roman assassinations of ours. A frenetic, sick nation, a national bewilderment, and meanwhile the centurions of the status quo proclaim that more of the status quoa more tightly cinched status quois the solution. We novelists are left in the shade by this surreality. Either more surreality, or a spare, clear art such as I lean towards, would seem to be the way to try to work it out.