Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Legend of Pig Eye - Rick Bass

This is my second meeting with Rick Bass. The last time I read him was in 2012 and as I recall, I really enjoyed the story - as I enjoyed this one.

Looking through the BASS database, I’ll have 4 more meetings with him in the coming years and I look forward to reading his stories .

This is a tight, clean story.  

Sitting back thinking about a period in my life where I was angry, just as the main character, trying to “hold onto a thing you loved, and letting go of other things to do it” and realizing that as I grow older I find myself doing this with greater frequency. The things I “let go of” though do not carry the weight that they once did and I see my priorities shifting and I become lighter in a sense.

Rick treats us with a lengthy Contributor’s Note that really gives us some great details surrounding the development of this story.

Rick writes about the selling of this story eventually to be published in The Paris Review but before landing there, Rick gives some pretty obvious clues that it was first accepted by Playboy with an offer of $2,500 for publication rights. Rick tells the story of a meeting with a Madame A. at this glossy magazine to discuss the story, a meeting  which goes horribly bad, with the outcome being obviously no publication rights of the story and no payment.

I can only conclude that this Madame A. is Alice K. Turner - who was the fiction editor at Playboy from 1980-2000. 

One wonders if the story would have been included in the BASS if it had landed in the pages of Playboy rather than the Paris Review. Looking through my database, Playboy has had 13 authors that they published included in BASS and the Paris Review has had 30. I don’t know if these numbers answer my question.


After Rick’s meeting with Turner at Playboy he walks to the office of The Paris Review, has a very interesting meeting with George Plimpton which almost includes Rick getting punched in the nose by Plimpton. Rick discusses the story with Plimpton and tells him of his meeting with Turner. Following the meeting, there must have been a renewed drive in Bass to really shape his story - not that he wouldn’t have after another meeting with an editor - but perhaps the energy from the meeting with Plimpton lit a spark.

Bass writes further in his notes that he and his editor at Norton, Carol Houck Smith, worked through a dozen drafts or more with only one original paragraph remaining  - the last one. The revisions were done with anger as the driving force - it worked and Plimpton published the story, Katrina pulls it from the couple of thousand she reads passes it along to Adams who recognizes its beauty and selects it as one of the 20 to be included in this volume. 

1 comment:

  1. how strange the editor kept the last paragraph intact, to me the weakest in this "Boxing" tale, where we learn more about dogs and horses and swimming and family than boxing