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It is late to be answering your letter of December 27th, but I have kept it in a portfolio of letters that “must be answered”. That means letters which I do not have to answer, but which I wish to answer.
The notice of Charlie Platt’s3 death in the Red Cloud4 paper5 made me turn to your December letter again. I am glad you had those pleasant days with him and his flowers last summer, and I am sure that you will often remember that visit with him. My old friends in Red Cloud are thinning out so fast that I almost dread to open the home paper. Your Uncle Sylvester6's death was a shock to me. He was a classmate of mine down in the South Ward school7 a thousand years ago.
Is the Amboy mill8 still running; I wonder? The splendid pictures9 published10 in the Omaha World-Herald11, which you sent me four years ago, I keep safely pasted in a crazy sort of scrapbook full of pictures from all over the world. I had hoped to go out to Red Cloud this autumn just past, but I wasn’t very well and I dreaded the emotional shock of so many changes there. It is great fun to “feel things hard” and get big thrills out of everything that comes along. But when you are older, those same things cut too deep- - - one hasn’t the old vitality to meet them with.
I wonder whether you have happened to read young John
Hersey’s15 book, “A Bell for Adano”16. It
seems to me the best thing that a young writer has put out in a long while. Young
writers nearly always fall down on the Italians - it is the most dangerous ground
they can ever tread! Hersey’s Italians are just like ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩the kind I have lived among in little
towns. Furthermore, he doesn’t find it necessary to have a hectic love story. The
inconclusive relation between the lonely
"Mr.“Mister Major”17 and the shady Italian girl18 seems to me just right - and rather
sweet. I don’t often go to ‘sell’ a new book, but the recognition of integrity
(literary morality) in a young writer does make the hair on the back of my neck
stand up a little.
Thank you for your good friendly letter, dear Josephine, and I hope all is well with you and yours.Faithfully yours Willa Cather