Monday, March 30, 2009


Random task

While I was tracking down that J.F. Powers photo in my previous post, I came across this image, also in the Life archives. In the context of today's self-immolating publishing industry, it seems not only anachronistic but extraterrestrial: the man in the overcoat is a Random House talent scout. That's right, a roving operative with a sharp eye for the sleek sentence, the pungent predicate. "This kid is something," you can almost hear him saying, addressing his words into one of those old-fashioned crank-driven telephones, or maybe jotting them down on the back of an envelope as he hurries over to the Western Union branch. And what about the hot prospect standing on the stairs? She turns out to be Brenda Ueland--journalist, feminist, bohemian (one of her numerous lovers, an anarchist named Raoul Hendricson, left her for Isadora Duncan), and an exercise fanatic who set at least one international swimming record when she was in her eighties. If somebody can supply some accurate dialogue here, I'll be extremely grateful.


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