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Letters & Essays: P-R

Letters & Essays of the Day

If You Are Permanently Lost

By Molly McCully Brown

I never have any idea where I am. I lived my whole childhood in the purple foothills of the same five-square-mile town and I still couldn’t tell you whether you turn left or right on the single thruway to get to the grade school or the grocery store, or how to find the houses of any of my childhood friends. I can’t tell you how to find the conspicuously modern angles of the apartment building in the small Mississippi town where I lived for three years in graduate school, or even easily direct you from my old house in Austin to the bright little bar where I wrote much of my first book. I never know how far I am from the airport or the highway. I can’t read a map effectively, and even though it’s less than half a mile from my current apartment in London, I couldn’t get to the Thames without the artificial voice on my cell phone—set to an Australian accent so its omnipresence is less tiresome—­calling out turn left every 250 feet. Half the time, to remember which way is left, I have to imagine for an instant that I am picking up a pen.

Answers to A Query on Thomas Wolfe

By Maxwell Perkins

1. I also enclose a brief statement of some of the facts of Mr. Wolfe's life, which will complete the answer to this question. He began to write for publication about three years before the publication of "Look Homeward Angel" which appeared in 1929. Before that he had written two plays but neither one was ever produced although those to whom they were submitted did discern the great talent of the man. Probably the play form is too precise and sharply limited for his sort of expansive genius.