ALL-TIME AMERICAN WRITER TOURNAMENT CONTINUED
The tournament site became a wild place last Saturday after the #2 seed announcements.
The Big Four dropped back into town so Hemingway could join Scott in the celebration. They held court at the new bistro. Mailer joined the two for a time but couldn't keep up with their drinking. Mailer was last seen staggering out the back door after losing an arm-wrestling contest to a grinning Hemingway. Mailer hasn't been seen since. Scratch one of my commentators.
At the same time, Emily D joined the two friends. She wore a sleek white dress, and spoke to Scott while Hem was engaged in his arm-wrestling.
"I am small like the wren, and my hair is bold," she told Scott, "as is my pen. If you would have the leisure to speak to me, I should feel quick gratitude."
She fell instantly in love with him, but was also intensely intimidated by Scott and by the situation. While Hemingway bellowed nearby.
Fitzgerald's green eyes were indeed entranced by the poet. He gazed at her wistfully-- but two glasses of wine were too much for Emily and she fled back to her room, vowing to ever remain. Scratch my other commentator.
Fitzgerald was later carried off unconscious himself, but has promised not to take another drink while in training. An observer, Raymond Carver, remarked that this "was a good thing. A small thing, but a good thing."
The rest of the night is blurry. Hemingway stood in the middle of the street challenging any writer to a fight. Melville and Twain wondered whether or not to intervene. Just then a dogsled pulled up. Jack London stepped out from behind the pack.
"What's doing?" he asked.
Herman M pointed to swaggering Hem, as if to ask for a favor.
Jack London, an authentic tough guy, knocked the bear out with one punch. Melville thereupon picked up the sprawling writer, threw him over his shoulder, not without difficulty, and the Big Four went back to their camp to resume fishing in the morning.
The night culminated at the coffeeshop across the street, which was packed to the rafters when Jack Kerouac stepped to the podium.
"This reading this coffeeshop this small all-American town incredible big porch big bridge in the mist this Emily Dickinson evening of beatitude writers everywhere without beginning or ending, heavenly, man. O Whitman! O Salinger! O Twain! It's Saturday night all over America.
"I think of Hemingway bears, Scott purple pink ties, Mailer Oates Plath noisemakers hepcat Walt Whitman writers sucking on beers and pipes scratching into paper nutty wild jazzy sweet words people are yelling or whispering blown boom trombone insights and attitudes to the beat of their inner peace,
"I think of soft smart Wharton Eliot Updike Redcoats sky-high with their reps happy to be part of this sacred gathering prayerful celebration,
"I think of all writers everyplace carrying on the tradition, man, karmic drinking of this art this experience, this too-musical too-cool tournament give me the vibe the beat the bebop syncopation keeping me going man while I sneak out the back door back stairs back on the road back into the starry Van Gogh heavenly night."
Next: The #3 and #4 seeds.