Fee Dawson's Great Day
Back from Chicago, and from a day of teaching at Albany, and maybe it was the coffee while driving back, or the hours of doing taxes after that, but woke up after one hour of sleep at 2:30 with acute insomnia. Used it to reread a book that had just arrived in the mail: Fielding Dawson’s 1973 classic A Great Day for a Ball Game, just reissued by David Wilk’s RVIVE Books. Wow! Dawson’s writing is indeed just as breathtaking as I remember it. Here’s the one prose writer who realized Olson’s sense of “projective” and of the “form is only an extension of content” precept, though Dawson’s domain was as much the inside real (the psychological) as the outsidereal (the street, the ballgame, the kid, the woman). The sheer pleasure of the sentences, the breath pauses, the stammerings, the disjunctive punctuation, creative a profoundly subjective mode of moving along, ahead or sideways, probably as far away from the “new sentence” as could be imagined. But what pleasure! Clearly I am going to need to get the rest of my boxes of prose books out of storage & get the 20-some Fielding Dawson volumes back up in reach on the shelves. And, by the way, it’s a bare two months until spring training begins — for me, in fact, on March 2nd, when the Mets play the Braves, & I’ll offer a libationary sacrifice to Ernie Banks and Fee Dawson. Meanwhile, if you haven’t read any Dawson yet, get this book — a major treat!
Sorry to hear you’re a Mets fan. My Phillies [my family has lived in Philly, the Philly Metro and|or Southern New Jersey since we arrived in this country in the mid-late 1800’s, so I am not a bandwagon jumper] must be making you sick the past 3 years.
First Intensity was the last to publish anything of Fee’s. He died before he could proofread the story he gave me (Susan proofed it). He was a super writer; with each submission he’d put in (to paraphrase) “this is word-perfect.” And it usually was! Good to see you bring him to our attention again.