Offering, Gesture, Gift

Mailbox, Saratoga Springs, NY. From melissacartier.com.

West End Avenue
New York New York
June 14, 2008

Dear Ronald Brodsky,

My daughter, Rebecca, was a senior student in your Recent Fiction seminar, last semester—her last up at school altogether—and (perhaps because her mother is a writer, as well as a one-time literature major, which R. of course was not) she shared an unusual amount of information and enthusiasm about this challenging course and its teacher. Among other things, I’ve been advised that I must, must immediately get to those significant novels on your reading list I’d somehow missed. That project is well underway this summer: I’m into the Ondaatje, with Sebald, Saramago, Coetzee et al piled high on my night table.

R. further reported that, apart from your critical works, you are the author of a recent collection of short fiction. Having presented her with a copy (one of her graduation presents), I’m looking forward to settling into that book, too, as soon as she’s willing to hand it over. Unlike me, she doesn’t care to read collections “in order,” or to read stories spaced too closely together, so I may need to be patient.

Meanwhile, in appreciation for your nurturing of my daughter’s nascent literary side, and for your role in making her final term so rewarding, I thought I would send you a story of mine inspired by her departure for college, an event that now seems strangely long-ago. In fact, it was several years before I could tackle the subject, and I’ve only recently finished the final draft, which means it hasn’t made the rounds much as yet. But I hope you’ll enjoy another perspective on a young woman we’ve shared without having met one another.

Thanks again for your good work, and thanks in advance for your stories, which I already know to be “interesting” . . . (yes, that’s all I could get out of her on the subject, so far.)

Yours truly,

Sylvia Vogel


North Broadway
Saratoga Springs New York
June 21, 2008

Dear Writer:

Thank you for your interest in our journal. Unfortunately, your submission arrived outside our reading period, which runs from September 1-May 30, reflecting the regular college calendar. Though we are unable to return the story, or, alternatively, hold onto it, we will take this opportunity to advise you that you may resubmit your work, if you care to, during the time frame specified here. And in future, please do enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope, even if for response only.

The Editors


West End Avenue
New York NY
June 24 2008

Dear Ronald Brodsky,

A little over a week ago, I sent you a personal letter (copy enclosed), along with a new story I thought you might find personally interesting (the letter covers that): today, I’ve received what appears to be a form postcard (though the last line about an SASE was hand-lettered) bearing the logo of the journal you and your wife edit, informing me that “[my] submission arrived outside our regular reading period.”

What I sent, however, was for your eyes only, and as such, mailed to your home address, to which I have access because (again, the original letter covers this) my daughter Rebecca Vogel was a member of your most recent Recent Fiction seminar, which met at your house a number of times during the semester. I don’t imagine many writers direct “submissions” to your home office. Rather, there must certainly be an official college English Department office or a public post office box designated for that purpose.

But that was not and is not my own present purpose, as should now, I hope, be clear. My mailing was a private offering and that is why I directed it to a more private address.

Perhaps the envelope was accidentally rerouted to the business office or postbox and there mistaken for a “submission” because it contained my story as well as my letter, though I can only assume that the letter itself, which explained everything, wasn’t actually read. Or else was somehow completely misread? I really don’t have a clue what could’ve gone wrong here. And perhaps it’s a waste of energy to try to right it by resending a letter and story that apparently went straight into the circular file up there.

But I’m stubborn, or foolhardy, enough to want to try again to reach you personally, as I’d originally intended. So, enclosed, along with that cover of June 20, is “Leaving,” which is not at this time a submission, though I’m naturally hoping someone will want to publish it, once I do start to send it out more widely.

Yours,

Sylvia Vogel


North Broadway
Saratoga Springs NY
June 29, 2008

Dear Writer:

Thank you for your interest in our journal. Unfortunately, your submission arrived outside our reading period, which runs from September 1–May 30, reflecting the regular college calendar. Though we are unable to return the story or, alternatively, hold onto it, we will take this opportunity to advise you that you may resubmit your work, if you care to, during the time frame specified here. And in future, please do enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope, even if for response only.

The Editors


West End Avenue
New York NY
July 8, 2008

Dear Ronald Brodsky,

I have, as of today, received two (2) pre-printed postcards, both regretting that I’ve submitted to your journal out of season, both ostensibly in response to the same non-submission, which I sent—twice, yes, in two separate mailings—directly to you, at your own home address.

And I thought I was at a loss when the first flukey, flakey card arrived!  What on earth?!? Is some nameless literary magazine intern-drone retrieving all your summer mail and simply sending out these summer notices by rote, then trashing stories without, it seems, even a glance at the accompanying letter? And more than once, in my case, which means course, that no one has caught the same inappropriate note going out twice to the same author in the same month, even though the author wasn’t “submitting,” and certainly didn’t include the requisite SASE.

This simplest explanation still makes no sense. Spinning out possible scenarios seems pointless, anyway. I’m not finding this minor mystery much fun at all.

The underlying, unanswerable question is why mail meant only for you is being treated, repeatedly, as if it’s something other than personal and private. Yes, I am a writer, and yes, I have sent you a story: I have been sending, and resending, you a story. But I am not “submitting” this work to your journal, or for your professional appraisal, or for any other reason than that I thought you might appreciate a piece of fiction based on my kid’s quitting home for college, because 1) it’s your college and 2) this same kid spent many hours of her last semester up there in one of your acclaimed seminars, just a few months back.

Besides, we’re both reading your short fiction, or I’m about to: why not, I thought, send one of my own stories on a subject with which you’re not unfamiliar, unconnected? I suppose I hoped the connection would tickle you too. A gesture, a sort of gift, is what I had in mind: a simple exchange, it was supposed to be. It seemed fairly straightforward, when I set out to get this package to you, weeks and weeks ago.

So what now? Shall I write it off as a postal system glitch, or a poltergeist, or something stranger than fiction, and just give in, give it up?  Or will the third time prove the charm? Obviously, I’ve already decided to at least write a third letter (with copies of the others attached), both to document and also, I suppose, quietly protest this silly situation. Obviously, too, I’ll need to re-send the disappeared story, “Leaving,” once again, or there’s no point. Though it’s possible, I should acknowledge, that there isn’t any to begin (and end) with. It is possible, isn’t it, that I am just spinning my wheels, writing letters to No One. Nowhere. No how.

But that’s enough of that: I’ll stop here and send this out to you, Ronald Brodsky, of Sparrow Lane, Greenfield New York. Because I believe you are there, meaning somewhere/somehow reachable, even in high summer.

Best,

Sylvia Vogel


Sparrow Lane
Greenfield New York
July 25, 2008

Dear Ms. Vogel,

You—or rather, your correspondence and what you call your offering/gesture/gift—have in fact reached me, found me, tracked me down to my very door, all three times now. The regretful little postcards were, I am forced to concede, a small ruse, just my way of trying to gently discourage you from making such an approach, especially in summer, when—and this is the absolute truth—I do not read anything but what I very much want or need to read to satisfy my highly subjective, even I suppose some might say selfish, agenda.

Alas, then, that my original indirection was so off-the-mark, my own responsive gesture just too subtle for someone so determined as you seem to be. From a certain point of view, in light of the difficulty facing any writer seeking attention and an audience in our time—when everyone seems to be a writer, self-anointed or otherwise—such determination is admirable, even an absolute requirement of the profession.

Unfortunately, since you claim that you were approaching me not as writer to editor/publisher, but on some more equal, even personal footing—though to be blunt, your reasoning seems to me rather fuzzy, if not disingenuous—I’m afraid I can’t muster that kind of appreciation for your tenacity in trying to make me the recipient of, and respondent to, an unsolicited manuscript, lovely alma mater back-story notwithstanding.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy Rebecca’s presence in my seminar as much as she seems to have enjoyed having me as an instructor. She did very good work, and, if I recall correctly, received a very good final grade.

But now it’s summer, school’s out, she’s graduated, moved on, and suddenly there’s this onslaught of mail from Mom. Do you see where I’m going here?

Let me spell it out, to avoid any possible further misunderstanding: if, as a private individual, I don’t particularly care to be reachable, or reached, for whatever reason, it’s my prerogative to protect my privacy, not to mention my time and energies, as best I can. Your access to my home address was an accident of circumstance; your use of it in this way might be considered an abuse of privilege. And if you imagine your so-called gesture as just slightly, daringly audacious, well, from my perspective, anyone sending out an unsolicited anything three times to the same unwilling recipient is beyond presumptuous.

Still, I do hope you will forgive my small, and sadly futile, subterfuge; it seemed kindest at the moment. Whether you will forgive my candor here is another matter, but practical considerations have finally persuaded me to just do what needs doing. I’m sure I don’t need to add that I will not be reading that story any time soon—summer! my own idiosyncratic schedule!—though it would no doubt be better not to think of it as trashed. Rather, I encourage you to think positive; think recycled if you must think of this business again at all.

With all best wishes to you and yours,

Professor R. Brodsky


West End Avenue
New York NY
August 18 2008

Dear “Professor,”

Are you for real? It hardly seems possible that the person who penned that last poisonous letter could be the same man, writer, and teacher Rebecca spoke of with such respect.  Only the most outrageous arrogance could condescend to (“slightly. . . audacious”), then dismiss (“beyond presumptuous,”) this writer—and yes, “Mom,” proud Mom—for reaching out, in good faith, to connect with any other writer, for any reason whatsoever. Who, one has to wonder, can you possibly imagine yourself to be, with your ivory tower posturing and preening, your breathtakingly overblown sense of personal significance?

Not to mention your inflated assessment of your professional stature: “Unsolicited! An onslaught!  Unwilling! UNSOLICITED!”  That’s the gist, isn’t it: Who am I to send self-important you anything you didn’t solicit from me, and so damned determinedly, too, since I failed to recognize in time that this was no ordinary postal foul-up but rather, clever defensive fakery. Those impersonally off-putting postcards: genius! You’ve given yourself every advantage, playing a creepy game with an unsuspecting stranger. And really, what’s a poor putupon prof to do to protect his precious privacy but anything he wants to, including springing a surprise appearance to set the upstart dead to rights, put her in her proper place, before exiting with a final flourish, stage left.

I’m sure I’m supposed to stay gone too, now, down for the count. Which is why I insist, so irritatingly, on not slinking quietly away. There may be nothing to gain, your behavior already too screwball for any straightening out, but there’s nothing to lose either. Snipes regarding some supposed ulterior motive on my part are laughable: you’ve instantly made your opinion of me, and of everything else, personal and professional, irrelevant.

Is snide hostility more or less forgivable than self-aggrandizing “subterfuge”? That isn’t for me to say. But someone who goes so far out of his way to offend can’t be seriously interested in forgiveness. Let me, in turn, pretend to be kind and imagine you’re not a creep entertaining himself at someone else’s expense, but rather a troubled individual who may yet seek the help he so desperately needs.

And now (if I do say so myself) we’re done, thanks so much.

Sylvia Vogel


Sparrow Lane
Greenfield NY
September 3, 2008

Ms. V:

I am very much for real: are you? Please! Were I—or rather, had I successfully “made” myself (!)—truly irrelevant to you, you would not, I think, have taken the time and trouble, once again expended such evident effort, on yet another letter, delivered to me at my private residence, informing me of the fact. Au contraire, your latest missive seeks to keep things stirred up with a rehash, only slightly reheated by righteous indignation, of our recent, brief and, I think we can both agree, misbegotten correspondence.

I’m not, I hasten to add, unimpressed by the quality of the prose on display: fiery, yet coolly reflective, scathing yet self-controlled, is what I imagine you were after here. You have defended your poor wounded pride with an alacrity I don’t mind admitting rather surprised me, considering your original stated purpose. I should, though, have realized by now that you are one of those highly principled women who feels simply compelled to rise to An Occasion, any occasion, even one that exists only in her own mind.

You really need not have responded to my arrogance/condescension/et al, or even my basic reluctance toward having to read, write to, or otherwise engage with you.  But you couldn’t let any least part of it pass, could you, and more power to you, as far as that goes. Who knows but that a courageous and wellcrafted go-to-hell might not be just the thing to really grab me: Hey! skills and chutzpah in spades! Maybe, just maybe, such nervy eloquence could even move a misguided editor to reconsider, make him wonder if he shouldn’t, after all, give this ballsy broad’s writing a chance, a closer look, an actual, how do you call it? reading.

Hmmm?  Don’t tell me it didn’t cross your mind, Mom.

On the other hand, in that I am, according to your theory, just some creep playing cat-and-mouse with you, cast as innocent victim, there’s really no telling what I might do at this point, is there. Not that you care anymore, or so you claim: you’ve demonstrated your eagerness to take me on, calling me out —though, it’s true, with only a minimum of nasty name-calling—telling me off, letting me know you’ve got my number, blahblahblah. Blah blah.

Let me at least try, one more time, to set you straight, dear lady. First of all, when it comes to flak from disappointed scriveners, there is literally nothing I haven’t been hit with before. Pissing people off is part of the price of doing business with temperamental creative types (sic).

Secondly, for all your detached posing, you don’t fool me for a minute. Your feelings have been hurt, your hopeful plan dashed. I understand your need to lash out, really I do. And I do sincerely regret the pain I have caused you, especially since that seems to be what keeps you coming back for . . . something or other.

So, there, I’ve said I’m sorry. I’m saying I’m sorry. I am sorry. It’s all been some sort of terrible misunderstanding. Please don’t go away mad. Just go away. PLEASE. JUST. GO. AWAY.

Thank you.

R.B.


WEA/NYC
September 22, 2008

To Whom It May Concern:

Rebecca and I have read, re-read, discussed recent cards and letters received from this address, under the signature of Ronald Brodsky, in response to correspondence of mine:  it is our considered judgment that the author of said materials must be an imposter—a perpetrator of fraud—and not the esteemed academic who directed Rebecca’s senior seminar on Recent Fiction last semester.

Frankly, I’ve suspected something of the sort all along: it just defies belief that dear Professor Brodsky, as he has presented himself to my daughter’s class and so many others for decades, would go to such trouble to avoid reading a short story, refusing, rejecting it out of hand, without any particular reason other than the personal prerogative to refuse, reject, without any particular reason. The real Ronald Brodsky would not, I think, so abuse his relative power, in the scheme of things literary.

No, I should have realized this would not have been RB’s way, though his summers would, naturally, be filled with his own activities. One can much more easily envision him politely regretting his inability to read one’s story, or any story, very soon, but projecting that he might be able to get to it sometime in the fall, or perhaps over winter break at the latest, and thanks very much for thinking of him. I believe he would want to seem courteous and appreciative, even if he knew there was a good chance he might never get to that story at all.

I certainly could not and would not fault him for that, come what may.

But this egomaniacal pretender is another animal altogether. My logical next move would be to contact the English Department, ask them to look into who’s behind the earlier phony postcards and subsequent phony letters. Alternatively, I might just take a drive up there toward the end of the semester and see for myself. I don’t expect you to respond to this final letter from me; I am only writing now to give you fair warning that we know what you’re up to, though not (yet) why.


Sparrow Lane
Greenfield NY
October 15, 2008

Lady, you have got to be kidding. Or else, even crazier than I could’ve credited you with being, and that’s saying something. Talk about grandiose: instead of taking my eventual crystal-clear explanation at face value and giving up this vain attempt to —what? really, really reach me?—you now turn to a crackpot conspiracy theory which has someone intercepting your mail to me—that would be Ronald Brodsky—and stringing you along for his own obscure, but indubitably sinister, purposes. Or maybe just for the hell of it. Yes, that must be it: this cunning trickster is sitting up here in my—I mean, Ronald Brodsky’s—house, laughing himself sick at your ongoing earnest efforts to make sense of his mischief-making.

I have a suspicion of my own, though. I think this accusation of fraud is a ruse on your part, a not-so-clever ploy designed to shame me into seeing, once and for all, how much nicer I could and should have been to you, Rebecca’s writer-Mom, from the beginning, how this esteemed, and even beloved, old fellow (thank you, thank you) should have welcomed, and should welcome still, anything you care to share with me, out of the sheer generosity of your own large spirit.

My response to this new bid: Whatever! as Rebecca and her friends are wont to exclaim.

I’m more than prepared to call your bluff, first, by observing that there is no way in hell you’d broach any of this with Rebecca, who, lovely and dear as she may be, would not be a happy girl if she thought Mommy were repeatedly contacting a prof behind her hypervigilant young back. Am I right or am I right?

Moreover, I don’t believe for a moment that you would involve my department in a matter which is as purely, painfully personal as you’ve insisted on making it. Of course, if you did so, you would have no way of knowing whether the same evil perpetrator might not be patrolling those offices, intercepting that mail as well. But since the odds are you’re not so nuts that you don’t know perfectly well with whom you’re dealing—however little his resistant editor’s act suits your sense of who, or what, he’s supposed to be—I leave it to your vivid imagination to conceive how very embarrassing opening up this ridiculousness to the scrutiny of others, my colleagues all, might be.

Make that, Would be.

Last but not least, though I imagine you’ve had quite enough of this small town for awhile (have even, as you’ve noted in your several cover letters, finally finished your small town college story) if you do happen to take a ride up this way to satisfy your increasingly alarming, intrusive sense of curiosity, rest assured that I am prepared to defend myself to the fullest against anything that even vaguely resembles stalking. I mean it. If you think I’ve been a bear about protecting my privacy longdistance—let me just say you don’t want to tangle with me up close.

All that being said, and even as I continue to resist and, yes, reject your manipulations, I am willing to acknowledge that something in your characterization of Ronald Brodsky The Good gave me pause. You more than suggest that a plainly dissembling promise to read your story would have been preferable to my far more forthright demurral, that this would have made me seem more “courteous and appreciative.” While your daughter’s positive reports on my professorial demeanor may have led you to some erroneous assumptions about me—I may not be as Good as all that—nevertheless, I don’t necessarily need to keep on being the bad guy here either. I am perfectly willing to offer polite reassurance, to say that I’ll read your story when I get around to it, if not before.

Seriously, and all snark aside, I’ll go one better: I hereby promise to get to the story by the holidays, Hanukkah or Christmas, whichever comes first, or whichever one I decide to celebrate this year. And I mean it, just as surely as I mean that I will call the authorities, pronto, if I ever find you anywhere near my house, much less at my front or back door.

Now my head hurts; I’m going to take a nice, long, small town walk.

Yrs,

RB

P.S. The entire property is fully wired and protected against intruders.


West End Avenue
New York NY
November 12, 2008

Dear RB:

I sincerely hope I am wrong about your not being the real, the right, The Good RB. Your take on the subject was, well, entertaining. Meanwhile, you are at least halfwrong about Rebecca. Though she does naturally like to keep her own associations largely to herself, she wasn’t totally traumatized to hear I’d contacted you. What threw her, what she refused to believe, was you behaving badly in any least way. A parent is, as you know, always an easier target for blame. But the evidence here seemed overwhelming. The impersonator story was the most emotionally/intellectually satisfying way for her, especially, to resolve cognitive dissonance. That, and never hearing another word about any of this.

On the other hand, I do know she is planning on writing to you (email, needless to say), is still interested in maintaining the relationship, which she does value. I don’t think that’s giving away any secrets at this point.

It’s possible, though not likely, that my daughter has already seen the short work of fiction I’ve sent you. She mainly reads my stories on the sly, as her father did before her. I don’t make a habit of putting my work in front of her, any more than I did him, but it is pretty much always right there, on my open Apple desktop, for the reading. Perhaps (again, taking after her Dad) she is even more unsettled by stories that don’t feature some character seemingly based on her than by those that do. She may check it out sooner, knowing that it takes off on her trading NYC for SS, and that you, one of her last teachers there, have a copy you may be reading yourself.

Or—sorry—will soon read. Whatever has come before, whatever the risks, I do take you at your word, and can’t be anything but pleased: the story, our potential common interest in it, has been the thing, here, all along. I wish you pleasure in the reading, and look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Given the intervening distractions, not to mention the discouraging miscues of our earlier exchange, it occurs to me that I should probably ask whether you need another hard copy of “Leaving.” Alternatively, I can email an attachment, if you’ll send me that address. Not that I couldn’t get it from Rebecca, but as I suggested above you are (half-)right: there’s been quite enough sharing around the subject of Ronald Brodsky for the time being. Since emailing is her preferred method of communicating with you, I’ll consider it hers exclusively until further notice.

Looking forward . . .

Best wishes,

Sylvia V.


West End Avenue
New York NY
December 14, 2008

Dear Ronald Brodsky,

As winter draws near, I thought you’d like to know that my stack of “summer” books still warms me:  I’ve just now had my heart broken by the Coetzee—or broken again, the Ondaatje having already done its best back in June. Both are astonishingly powerful—in such small formal frames!—as well as brilliantly, beautifully written novellas. There was a particular moment in Disgrace, my first exposure to this author, I don’t mind admitting, when I suddenly saw his genius concentrated in a single sentence I had to rush into Rebecca’s room to read out loud to her. Who would understand better than the girl who recommended your syllabus as the spine of my own summer/fall/winter reading program?

Meanwhile, I somehow imagined I might cheer myself, change up the mood, by (finally) diving into your collection. R., as I mentioned, wasn’t moving through it with any deliberate speed, and won’t miss it while I make my way straight through, as I like to do with such volumes. I was, oh, a little off about the mood; if the darkness isn’t unremitting, it’s still fairly deep, several stories in. But I like your style and energy and especially your darkly eccentric sense of humor, most evident in several pieces that seem to be autobiographically inspired. NB: I’m doing my best not to draw any easy conclusions on that score: for all I know, the mother, the wives, lovers and friends of the professors in these stories may bear only the most remotely fictional relation to yours/you. In which case, I’m even more impressed by your accomplishment.

Best wishes,

SV


West End Avenue
New York NY
January 2, 2009

Dear Ronald Brodsky,

Greetings of the New Year, which I hope finds you well. I suppose it was the unexpected flurry of summer correspondence that has made these subsequent months seem, by contrast, so silent. Having not heard back from you about whether you still had “Leaving” in hand, I thought it best to trust that you did, rather than send out yet another copy of the story. And now, having not heard back from you about it at all, I’m writing to ask whether you’ve perhaps changed your mind about reading it by the holidays, or ever.

Believe me when I say that I have not been anxious to sit down to this letter; I am not happy to have to ask, to feel myself placed in this awkward position again. So, why not just let it drop? Because, for this writer, it’s like waiting for something much heavier than the other shoe, which may come flying at my head when I least expect it. And at the same time, it’s like turning away from a story without finding out how it ends, which I almost never like to do.

Of course, I may not find out, even now. Or it may be a bad, sad ending. But at least I can tell myself that I did my best to see this thing I started through to the finish.

By the way, Rebecca is just now preparing to leave home again: she’s taking a break year abroad to teach English in Tokyo. We’ll have a sayonara party for her this coming weekend. She still occasionally talks about getting in touch with you, though it doesn’t sound as if she has actually sent the first e-mail. On to the next adventure, I suppose. I remember very well what that felt like, those first several years out of school especially.

In any event, I look forward to hearing something from you, and once again, wish you all the best as another year, one of such bright promise, begins.

Yours,

SV


North Broadway
Saratoga Springs NY
December 29, 2008

Dear Writer:

Thank you for your submission. We’re sorry to say it isn’t something we can use at this time, but we appreciate your interest and wish you luck in placing it elsewhere. In future, please enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope, even if for response only.

The Editors


West End Avenue
New York NY
January 14, 2009

To “The Editors”:

And, so, it ends with a form rejection of my non-submission.

You miserable, cynical mind-fucker. Screw you, screw your journal . . . and most of all, screw your self-indulgent collection of socalled stories, on which I have wasted too much of my time, dutifully paging through repetitive riffs on your precious academic life, the ennui only deepened by the absurd, and utterly predictable, plot twists you favor. If you believe this clichéd crap could have ever found a publisher without your university contacts, you’re even more of an egotistical ass than you’ve proven yourself to be. My heart goes out to all the writers and especially to every last one of those impressionable students who ever mistook you for the real thing.

Sylvia Vogel


Sparrow Lane
Greenfield NY
January 13, 2009

Dear Sylvia Vogel,

I’m in receipt of your letter of January 2. Are you Rebecca Vogel’s mother? If so, I certainly do remember her mentioning you and your work with admiration several times during the semester we spent together, which I believe was her last here.

I’m confused, though, by your reference to a particular story of yours (“Leaving”?) and completely in the dark when it comes to what you call our summer correspondence. I’ve been on sabbatical this past semester, and I am quite certain that no mail from you was forwarded to me during my time away (early June until January, just a few days ago.) Yet there are no earlier communications from you to be found here at home, or in my campus office. And, sorry, no sign at all of the story you evidently wanted me to see. I may be getting on, but I don’t forget exchanges of letters with anyone, and I am prepared to swear that this is the first time I’ve ever heard from or written to you. Which makes it a strange situation indeed. I’m hoping to be able to come up with some answers, once the department staff is back in full force.

In the meantime, please don’t feel awkward about being persistent in support of your writing: I’ll be more than happy to take a look at anything you’re willing to show me. I’m afraid that I’ll need your patience and indulgence, though, as far as filling me in on some of the background I seem to be missing. And do let me know whether the story is one you’d like us to consider for publication, or whether you were thinking of it as more of a personal gesture?

I’m glad to hear Rebecca’s found a worthy new adventure, post-Saratoga Springs. Please send her a shout-out from me, along with my assurance that she’s always welcome to be in, or get back in, touch, no matter where she may roam. The internet, for all we may decry information overload, is a remarkably reliable, readily available connector of people, near and far. I’m sure you’ll soon be discovering the powers of Skype, if you haven’t already.

With very best wishes always,

Ronald Brodsky

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