Writers and Writing

Writers and Writing

Writers and Writing

Writers and Writing

Excerpt

My introduction to the literary life came about a dozen years ago through the late Theodore Dreiser, who seems to me to have been a strong embodiment, not necessarily pleasing, of the traits that a man needs to hold himself together through a long career as a creative writer. It was Dreiser's birthday and I--a reporter on The New York Times--was assigned to go to his suite at the Hotel Ansonia to do a birthday interview with him that everyone involved--the City Editor, Dreiser and myself--knew probably wouldn't be printed at all or at most would get into the paper only as a couple of paragraphs.

Dreiser usually attacks the rich and the religious when he is interviewed, but on this day he spent most of the time that I was with him bragging about his dog. He said that dogs are naturally very intelligent but that they are commonly retarded by the people who own them. People who don't talk to their dogs beyond something like "Here, Towser," or "There's your supper, Mike," get about what they give, according to Mr. Dreiser. They are dull with their dogs and their dogs are dull with them.

But when the owner is smart, he continued, the dog is made into a real companion and very quickly becomes smart also. His own dog, said Dreiser, with a somewhat heavy and entirely sincere enthusiasm, was brilliant. This dog was an Irish setter and often it would come to him, in the study of his house outside Mt. Kisco, hunting for something to do.

"When I'm in my study I'm there to work," said Dreiser. "I'll want to get rid of him, do you see, but instead of saying, 'Scat, go on, get out of here,' as you might to a cat, I make a sugges-

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