In response to:
O'Hara and Others from the December 17, 1964 issue
To the Editors:
Two reputable reviewers have attached disproportionate significance to the ridiculous Foreword to John O’Hara’s new book of stories, The Horse Knows the Way. Both (one in The New York Times and one in The New York Review) have quoted the last sentence: “I have work to do, and I am not afraid to do it.” One has called it “deceptively simple”; another has used it as evidence that O’Hara will push on, one presumes in his own fashion, a fashion that is so familiar that we almost know what he will do before he does it. The sentence’s deceptively simple, all right, and not worth much attention. But I offer the version as it actually appears in the Foreword, as an indication that O’Hara can, from time to time, deviate from the all-too-familiar Image that he has built of himself: “I have work to do, and I am afraid not to do it.”
Henry S. Taylor
Stanley Kauffmann replies:
Mr. Taylor is quite right; in reading the last line of O’Hara’s Foreword, my eye transposed the “not” to change overweening candor into overweening resolve. I conclude that duty, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.