Issue 179, Winter 2006
For many years until his death in 1997, the great American publisher James Laughlin maintained a manila file folder labaled “Handspring.”
These are some of its contents.
I’m not sure who my double really is. He began long ago when I started putting the name Hiram Handspring on comical parody pieces in the New Directions annuals. A clown, harmless fellow. But now I think he has become rather sinister. He keeps pushing me to write everythingin a sort of black humor, a sardonic tone J’ai peur de lui. Il faut que tu me sauve de lui! My shrink is not much help. He doesn’t believe in doubles and just laughs.
At 28 H. took up literature. He was advised to darken his locks and did so. After a study of current iterary productions, H. decided that the quickest way to get ahead was to steal from successful old poets. It’s poet eat poet, declared Handspring. But H.’s literary plan did not seem to work. Helen Vendler paid no attention to him and The New Yawper did not print him. Disillusioned, Handspring abandoned literature. He joined Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Errol Flynn in the Foreign Legion. When H. returned from the Foreign Legion he found a world he didn’t like. It was full of structuralists and Femulists and there was a cowboy. He retired to a funny farm where he is very popular and very happy.