Magazine article Book

Flash Backs: Looking Back on Literary History

Magazine article Book

Flash Backs: Looking Back on Literary History

Article excerpt

[1942] WAR STORY

In a way, 1942 was the year that Roald Dahl became a real writer. Earlier, at the outset of World War II, the future author of James and the Giant Peach joined the Royal Air Force as a pilot. His flyboy days ended, though, when he crashed his plane in a North African desert. He sustained permanent back injuries, and in 1942 he was given a desk job as a British air attache in Washington, D.C. That's where he met C.S. Forester, the author of the Horatio Hornblower series, who was on the lookout for real-life war stories for a magazine article he was working on. Dahl offered to jot down his own experiences, and Forester passed the notes directly to the editors of The Saturday Evening Post. Within ten days, Dahl received a check for $1,000 and his "article" was published.

[1958] MIXED BLESSING

When William H. Gass' first novel, Omensetter's Luck, was published in 1966, author Walker Percy called it the work of a "totally committed" writer. He couldn't have been more right. Gass, then a professor at Purdue University, had all but finished the three-hundred-page book eight years earlier when the only copy of the manuscript disappeared from his office desk. …

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