Once upon a time, just like a starry-eyed kid in a 1950s musical, I came to New York to seek fame and fortune. My first job was as a book club correspondent. My name was “Thomas J. Clark,” and I solved the problems of members who had not received the books that they ordered or who had received books that they had not ordered.
My second job was as typist to a much revered and much hated, novelist. I had been captivated by her conviction that our brains are our primary tools of survival and by her belief that the human spirit is a thing of joy and beauty. But I also knew that, like Greek philosophers of old, she surrounded herself with admirers and acolytes. So ... I was a bit hesitant.
I asked myself a question: In the presence of her immense brain and huge personality, could I retain my own judgment? Or would I lose myself in an unrelenting atmosphere of adulation?
After taking a pretty rigid inventory of my mental equipment, I decided that I could, indeed, handle the challenge. Anyway, I wanted to be associated with stellar people, and I was bored.
When I first started to work for her, I was neither disappointed nor surprised that the novelist did not resemble any of the characters in her heroic fiction. After all, I had seen her at lectures before I got the job.