Sunday, November 28, 2010

Written in 1985

"Symbols rise out of reality like methane gas out of garbage. The moral here is that it's dangerous to think methane gas arises out of some parthenogenesis or spontaneous combustion. Never forget that the garbage comes first. Or to select a less odorous metaphor, don't assume that you can deal in shadows without having substantial things to cast them." -- Wallace Stegner in a letter to James Hepworth, appearing in The Selected Letters of Wallace Stegner, edited by Page Stegner, published in 2007. As my friend Steve Wallace has pointed out, these letters are a treasure trove for anyone interested in the book business in the second half of the 20th century, among other things.

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