Speaking of atom bombs and Representative Velde, among other such contemporary items, do you think?as some people have been saying?that the young writer today works at a greater disadvantage than those of preceding?uh?generations?
Hell no, I don?t. Writers ever since writing began have had problems, and the main problem narrows down to just one word?life. Certainly this might be an age of so-called faithlessness and despair we live in, but the new writers haven?t cornered any market on faithlessness and despair, any more than Dostoyevsky or Marlowe or Sophocles did. Every age has its terrible aches and pains, its peculiar new horrors, and every writer since the beginning of time, just like other people, has been afflicted by what that same friend of mine calls ?the fleas of life??you know, colds, hangovers, bills, sprained ankles, and little nuisances of one sort or another. They are the constants of life, at the core of life, along with nice little delights that come along every now and then. Dostoyevsky had them and Marlowe had them and we all have them, and they?re a hell of a lot more invariable than nuclear fission or the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. So is Love invariable, and Unrequited Love, and Death and Insult and Hilarity. Mark Twain was as baffled and appalled by Darwin?s theories as anyone else, and those theories seemed as monstrous to the Victorians as atomic energy, but he still wrote about riverboats and old Hannibal, Missouri. No, I don?t think the writer today is any worse off than at any other time. It?s true that in Russia he might as well be dead and that in Youngstown, Ohio, that famous police chief, whatever his name is, has taken to inspecting and banning books. But in America he can still write practically anything he pleases, so long as it isn?t libelous or pornographic. Also in America he certainly doesn?t have to starve, and there are few writers so economically strapped that they can?t turn out work regularly. In fact, a couple of young writers?and good writers?are damn near millionaires.