The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

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March 20, 2011

Situation Wanted

Every time I see {another} headline about the plight of the unemployed, I want to stop reading anything but old novels.  But reading Eudora Welty's letter applying for a job at The New Yorker made me smile, and even feel ready again to go back into the fray.
{to the editors of The New Yorker, March 15, 1933}


I suppose you'd be more interested in even a sleight o'hand trick than you'd be in an application for a position with your magazine, but as usual you can't have the thing you want most.

I am 23 years old, six weeks on the loose in N.Y. However, I was a New Yorker for a whole year in 1930-1931, while attending advertising classes in Columbia's School of Business. Actually, I am a Southerner, from Mississippi, the nation's most backward state. ... I have a B.A. ('29) from the University of Wisconsin, where I majored in English without a care in the world. For the last eighteen months I was languishing in my own office in a radio station in Jackson, Miss., writing continuities, dramas, mule feed advertisements, santa claus talks, and life insurance playlets; now I have given that up.

As to what I might do you for you -- I have seen an untoward amount of picture galleries and 15 [cent] movies lately, and could review them with my old preposterous detachment. ... That shows you how my mind works -- quick, and away from the point. I read simply voraciously, and can drum up an opinion afterwards.

Since I have bought an India print, and a large number of phonograph records from a Mr. Nussbaum who picks them up ... I am anxious to have an apartment, not to mention a small portable phonograph. How I would like to work for you!  A little paragraph each morning -- a little paragraph each night, if you can't hire me from daylight to dark, although I would work like a slave. I can also draw like Mr. Thurber, in case he goes off the deep end. I have studied flower painting.

There is no telling where I may apply, if you turn me down; I realize this will not phase you, but consider my other alternative:  the U. of N.C. offers for $12.00 to let me dance in Vachel Lindsay's Congo. I congo on. I rest my case, repeating that I am a hard worker. Truly yours, Eudora Welty.
-- from What There Is to Say We Have Said: The Correspondence of
Eudora Welty and William Maxwell
, edited by Suzanne Marrs

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Ann said...

Well, it would sell her to me! This is definitely a better way to go than relying on an agency to send out your CV to prospective employers. I know of someone who has just left university whose agency entered him for the post of Professor and Director of an entire Institute last month on the basis of matched keywords in his CV and the job description. Unfortunately, they didn't look at what didn't match up!

Frances said...

Just love this! And wouldn't that capture the attention of many cookie cutter resume weary recruiters?

vivienne strauss said...

This is just wonderful! I'm ashamed to say I haven't read anything by Welty so far but she is next on the list for sure!

Penny said...

Do you know if she got the job? I so hope so! (As the mother of two offspring who write innumerable applications...)

I know what you mean. When I'm worried about money (most of the time!) I want to read early twentieth century novels about people who lived through hard times, so that I don't feel so sorry for myself. Reading more modern books about people for whom money is no object is NOT what I need!

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