Friday, July 15, 2005

"Common Prayer" by William Saroyan

One needn't believe in any sort of higher power to appreciate this prose-poem disguised as a story, although it might help to believe in the considerable clout of editors and publishers if one is a poor writer, as William Saroyan was when he penned this. The struggling young scribe from Clay, County, Iowa invokes the greatness of human history--and feels suddenly part of that long march himself. Read by Scoot.

Actually not from Iowa, but a product of Fresno, California, William Saroyan's star might shine a little less brightly than it did some decades ago, when his dazzling collection of short stories all written in one month, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, swung into the literary circus of the 1930's, to be followed up by the very popular My Name is Aram and The Human Comedy, among many others. The Armenian-American Saroyan then, and for several decades, personified the second-generation immigrant whose story desperately needed to be told. Notably profligate with his money and his women, Saroyan's prose was alternately good and bad, but his narratives are always bursting with life, poetry, and honesty. In the end, it might have been idealism which killed him, not just the cigarettes.

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