Friday, April 13, 2007

"All this happened, more or less"

Here's a footnote to yesterday's Kurt Vonnegut post that is just too funny not to share. During my nightly frolicking across the internet, I found a hilarious anecdote at Awful Announcing (via The Wade Blogs) about Vonnegut's early writing career.

In its early days of publication, Sports Illustrated tried to boost the quality of the magazine's writing by brooming out mediocre sportswriters in favor of literary-grade storytellers who may or may not have cared or known anything about sports, but could write one hell of a feature. One of those writers was Vonnegut, who was hired to compose a piece about a race horse that had jumped over the fence and into the stands.

How did that go? Here's the account from a 1998 review in the Lexington Herald-Leader on Michael MacCambridge's The Franchise: A History of Sports Illustrated Magazine (which appears to be out of print):

Kurt Vonnegut worked briefly at SI until being told to write a story about a race horse that had jumped the rail and terrorized the infield at a local track. Vonnegut stared at his desk for what seemed like hours before finally departing the building without a word. Inside his deserted typewriter was this: ''The horse jumped over the fucking fence.''

C'mon, how great is that?! Vonnegut's editor certainly couldn't have complained that he buried the lead. Maybe I'll try that on the sports blog. Here's how a post responding to tonight's Detroit Pistons-Toronto Raptors game might go: One basketball team scored more fucking points than the other one.

▪▪ "Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?" -- Kurt Vonnegut