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COLUMN FIFTY-SIX, FEBRUARY 1, 2001
(Copyright 2001 Al Aronowitz)


(Photo by Brenda Saunders )

THE SHAKESPEARE SQUADRON
(PART 9):
ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER

          Isaac Bashevis Singer lived in a bungalow within walking distance of Wolfie's, on Miami Beach.  He knew most of the people in his neighborhood, from New York City.

Q:      You said that winning the Nobel Prize cut into your time to write.  Rather than giving you time to write.

          It made you be a public person, which was time-consuming.  And antithetical to what a writer actually requires.

A:      That's true.

Q:      Would you rather have remained obscure?

A:      No.  I wasn't complaining.  Just stating a fact.

Q:      One time I free-lance copy-edited manuscripts for a publisher of scientific monographs and journals.  It was piece work.  I was paid by the page.  It worked out to be around the minimum wage, but I could do as much or as little of it as I wanted, and so it fit in with my writing.

          Except I'd work on my own writing like a man possessed and put the editing off until the last minute.  Then do a slapdash job.  They finally quit giving me manuscripts to style.

          I thought of you proofreading the Yiddish newspaper you proofread for meager wages.

A:      I told you I wasn't complaining.

Q:      Do you know who you remind me of, walking around Miami Beach in a raincoat and a hat?  I don't want to offend you.

A:      Meyer Lansky.

Q:      The eternal auslander.  The writer as a gangster.  It's not inappropriate.

A:          Joseph Goebbels said whenever he heard the word artist he reached for his revolver.

Q:      If they don't treat you that way you're doing something wrong.  If they shower you with honors you have to wonder where you pulled your punches.  Were you only a hack, after all.

          How did they misunderstand?  You must have sugar-coated the pill.

A:      Yes, I've felt that.

          You just have to shrug it off and continue to work.

          You can't pay any attention to them either time. ##

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