(Back from a brief trip east and posting again ...)
To Philip Roth:
January 7, 1984
I thought to do something good by giving an interview to People, which was exceedingly foolish of me. I asked Aaron [Asher] to tell you that the Good Intentions Paving Company had fucked up again. The young interviewer turned my opinions inside out, cut out the praises and made it all sound like disavowal, denunciation and excommunication. Well, we're both used to this kind of thing, and beyond shock. In agreeing to take the call, and make a statement I was simply muddle-headed. But if I had been interviewed by an angel for the Seraphim and Cherubim Weekly I'd have said, as I actually did say to the crooked little slut, that you were one of our very best and most interesting writers. I would have added that I was greatly stimulated and entertained by your last novel, and that of course after three decades I understood perfectly well what you were saying about the writer's trade - how could I not understand, or miss suffering the same pains. Still our diagrams are different, and the briefest description of the differences would be that you seem to have accepted the Freudian explanation: A writer is motivated by his desire for fame, money and sexual opportunities. Whereas I have never taken this trinity of motives seriously. But this is an explanatory note and I don't intend to make a rabbinic occasion of it. Please accept my regrets and apologies, also my best wishes. I'm afraid there's nothing we can do about the journalists; we can only hope that they will die off as the deerflies do towards the end of August.
- Saul Bellow, Letters