March 7, 2019 - 16:09 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - It may be possible that one of America’s greatest writers, Fresno’s William Saroyan (1908-1981), still has an unpublished story, The Fresno Bee reports.
The manuscript is in the possession of Washington journalist Philip Terzian. He remembers learning about the author from early childhood as his Armenian-American father, a book collector himself, occasionally would talk about Saroyan, for whom he had a great admiration.
In 1974, The New Republic magazine, where Terzian worked at that time, was publishing an anthology of past articles. “Working on that project was interesting, as I ended up writing to many very famous writers: John Cheever, Dame Rebecca West, and one of them was Saroyan. He probably picked up on my surname and wrote me back a very long letter,” Terzian said.
Thereafter, the correspondence continued and Saroyan authored several articles for The New Republic. “For instance, when journalist and writer Otto Friedrich published his book ‘Going crazy,’ Saroyan, out of blue, sent us a book review,” Terzian explained, showing a single-spaced typewritten dark page that also carried Saroyan’s handwritten changes here and there. “To my delight, the editor liked the unexpected submission and we ran the review.”
In the summer of 1978, the pen pals met for a lunch in one of Washington’s hotels when Saroyan was visiting the nation’s capital.
The New Republic was not printing fiction in its regular editions and that is why the story that William Saroyan sent in 1978 (again without previous arrangement which was his typical way of working) did not get published. In the title line, Saroyan had initially typed “The coat and the overcoat,” then crossed it out with a pencil and composed another handwritten option: “My father’s kid brother and the brand-new Christmas overcoat.” The story tells about his uncle’s adventures in Fresno.
“One of my plans, after I retire, is to find out whether this story was ever published or no,” Terzian said.
The short-story books that Saroyan published during this period do not contain a story with such title or anything similar. Accordingly, chances are that Terzian has a uniquely typewritten and handwritten story of Saroyan’s that might have never been read.