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#0621: Willa Cather to Dorothy Canfield Fisher, [September 12, 1922]

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Dear Dorothy1:

Your review4 is the solitary rose blooming in a thorny patch. I returned yesterday to fall into the bramble-bush; a very dirty apartment and a nest of letters and telegrams offering sympathy and expressing regret. "Why did you write a war book5?" etc. As to the other reviews, I'll send you some as soon as I get copies. They are "for and agin'", but mostly on the question of whether I had any business to write a war book. God save me from ever again tying up with a theme that has any journalistic aspect. It's a misfortune to me—but it couldn't be helped. It was something I couldn't get out of. The difficult thing is to get rested from that book and get on a living level again. I'm like somebody who'd been "kept up" on stimulants for a long while; I find it hard to get on without it. For the next ten days housecleaning will have to be amusement enough. I surely hate the time between books, when one has nothing between one and the vexations of the world.

But isn't this a weak-spirited letter to write you after your writing a review which put the [illegible] very soul of the thing at people! But they won't understand either you or me, dear Dorothy. Once a story touches a "controversy" it disappears as a story—it's torn to bits and doesn't leave a grease spot. However, it may be differently thought of away in quiet country places. I'm so glad you said a word of explanation about the relation between6 Claude and David—I couldn't, of course, because I had to keep inside Claude's own state of mind about David. At any rate this book has been a means of bringing us together in step again. You understood that that there was something in this book that had nothing to do with writing; and when that called for help, you came round the corner. But for most people the intrusion of that other thing mars the symmetry of a story, apparently. Better keep it in its box—I always have before—once you let it's nose out, you're in for punishment. I'll hold them off far enough next time, all right, all right! I'm pretty tired, but I'm still full of fight. Once my house is clean and I'm at work again, I'll forget Claude for five years and then go back to him. By the way a new edition7 of "Antonia"8 has to be printed at once for the people who want to prove to their friends how much better it is than "Claude"!

Knopf9 has just been in with very reassuring reports as to sales. He has sold 16,000 and has printed 37,000.

Your own book10 will be along pretty soon now, wont it? And you must be engrossed in it and all the details that go with bringing out a new one. You've given more time and strength and sympathy to mine than one friend usually gets from another—even when they are not "writers." The next thing of importance is, when are you coming to New York2, and will you save a little time for me? I look forward to it longingly.

With a heart full of gratitude Willa