Hall to McNair, August 28, 1984

Letter from Hall to McNair, August 28, 1984, Colby College Special Collections

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28 August 1984

Wes McNair
Hominy Pot Rd.
North Sutton, NH 03260

Dear Wes,

From what you say about Felix, I think it is still unclear.
This is the plot. In 1984 a man of fifty-five or so is daydreaming
while driving in his car alone all day. Of course he daydreams about
unpleasant things in the recent past… Then there suddenly a mnemonic…
he sees a sign that makes him remember driving all day with his dear
friend, same age, thirty years ago, just before the friend was killed
in the Navy. That is, he and his friend were driving to catch the
carrier where the guy flew an airplane, and shortly thereafter the friend
went off the edge of the carrier and drowned. That is the only accident.
Because he remembers his old friend, he suddenly has a vision of him
beside him sitting there. Naturally enough, he does not see his friend
at fifty-five, but at twenty-five… However, the morbid imagination
pictures him as rather waterlogged, you might say! In the moment of his
vision (not an hallucination, just say a quick flash) he remembers some-
thing that happened on this trip, connected with the sign for the Bar.
Then he remembers that story, just as it happened thirty years ago.
He remembers drinking pitchers, coming out, having a near-accident,
and what Felix said. That is all.

So there was only one accident, and it was the fatal accident on
the aircraft carrier. There is only one Felix, but he remembers another (?)
, and it is as if the old Felix is restored to the carseat beside
him for a second. When you copied out one line you made a mistake in it,
and it is interesting because I have changed the word. You write “thirty
years passed and I was a young man driving/…” It should have been “thirty
years perished.” I am trying out “drowned” instead of perished.

I have got rid of twenty-five-years-old forever. I think.

You are probably right about my reluctance. I am afraid to be
known as the Vicar of Bray. Some people seem troubled by the great
variety within my work, even within the same book, often. I think that
a lot of “voice” is faked continuity. But. Anyway, doubtless I will
publish the metrical things under my own name. When I get around to them.
Wendell Berry hates the Ragpicker with a fierce passion. I hope that
you are the right one!

Best as ever,


Read My Friend Felix (published version)