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How to Survive a Bear Attack and Selling Typewriters, in Literature
March 9, 2012 12:44 PM   Subscribe

Help me find two pieces of literature I read about thirty years ago, one a short story, the other a poem.

There were two pieces of literature I remember reading in college but now I can't remember enough details about them to find them again. The first is a poem I read in a poetry anthology. I think it may have been edited by X.J. Kennedy. The poem was a prose poem about surviving in the wilderness, and I think it included instructions for surviving a bear attack.

The second I thought was from a Flannery O'Connor story but I did some poking around in the FS&G '71 edition of compete stories and couldn't find it. All I remember was a funny line in the story where a mother was talking to someone, I think on a bus, and mentions that her son wants to be a writer. Then she says something like— "He hasn't sold any writing but he did land a job selling typewriters so that's a good start."

What are these two pieces of literature?
posted by Toekneesan to Writing & Language (9 answers total)
 
It's not a short story, but the typewriter bit sure sounds like something from A Confederacy of Dunces. I'm checking my copy now.
posted by jquinby at 1:06 PM on March 9, 2012


The second one is indeed from "Everything That Rises Must Converge": “My son just finished college last year. He wants to write but he’s selling typewriters until he gets started,” his mother said.

As for the first one, there's a poem by Judith McCombs about a bear attack, but it sounds a bit different from the one to which you're referring. I know that McCombs and the Kennedys ran with the same crowd, though.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:09 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Was the "surviving in wilderness" one Jack London "To Build a Fire"?


The Flannery O' Connor is "Everything that Rises Must Converge."
posted by Jagz-Mario at 1:09 PM on March 9, 2012


Not Toole, then. Never mind.
posted by jquinby at 1:10 PM on March 9, 2012


Yeppers, ETRMC, is it alright. I guess I didn't dig deep enough. I remembered it more jokey than it seems now.

The poem was not London. It was poetry, but you almost couldn't tell. What I loved about it was that it felt like instructions, but the instructions were really casually intense. Something like—

Pull the bears jaw down at a 90 degree angle
Hold it there until the bear releases

But better.
posted by Toekneesan at 1:22 PM on March 9, 2012


I'm betting you're looking for "Meeting a Bear," by David Wagoner.
posted by dlugoczaj at 2:02 PM on March 9, 2012


Actually, you might also be thinking of "Staying Alive" by David Wagoner. Possibly you've morphed the two together somehow? (No matter what, this sounds like Wagoner.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 2:12 PM on March 9, 2012


Whoops--above link doesn't have the entire text of "Staying Alive." Try this.
posted by dlugoczaj at 2:16 PM on March 9, 2012


Dlugoczaj, yes, morphed the two, that's exactly what I did. But thanks for the reintroduction. I really love those poems. It's so good to see them again.
posted by Toekneesan at 3:36 AM on March 10, 2012


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