Thursday, January 8, 2009
So there you have it. From first blurb to final poem, you have just finished reading the latest Truly-Godawful book, one we are extremely proud to have played a part in making available to the reading public. The founders of our firm, Phyllis M. Truly and Sheldon Godawful, in whose footsteps we are privileged to walk every single day, were giants in their field and had an extraordinary vision, but even they could not possibly have imagined the day when we would publish a book such as this one.
For readers who might decry the lack of any readily discernible plot, we can only point them to Mr. Barnwell’s favorite writer, Flannery O’Connor, who once wrote the following to a friend:
“You would probably do just as well to get that plot business out of your head and start simply with a character or anything that you can make come alive...Wouldn't it be better for you to discover a meaning in what you write rather than to impose one? Nothing you write will lack meaning because the meaning is in you.”(1)
Nothing Billy Ray Barnwell wrote lacks meaning because the meaning, as you have discovered, was in him.
Phyllis Truly and Sheldon Godawful were not particularly religious people, but, like so many in our own generation, they considered themselves to be very spiritual. The corporate watchword they chose was first spoken a long time ago: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.” We are confident, therefore, that anything in this book born of the flesh will eventually go the way of all flesh. We are equally confident that anything born of the spirit will, to borrow E. B. White’s famous reference at the end of The Elements of Style to Robert Louis Stevenson’s cow(2), live on and on and on.
(1) O’Connor, Flannery, The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor, Selected and edited by Sally Fitzgerald. Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, Inc., New York, 1980, p. 188. (Originally published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc., New York, 1979.)
(2) Strunk, William, Jr. and E. B. White, The Elements of Style, Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., New York, 1972 (second edition), pp. 77-78.