Thursday, June 23, 2005

Lagniappe: Writing for a Penny a Word...

"I have killed a thousand men. In the dark alleys of small towns I have waylaid and slugged them; on foggy streets of sleeping cities I have clubbed and knifed them; in the dens of the tenderloin and the hideouts of gangsters I have shot them in cold blood; on the rolling pampas of the Argentine I have murdered them with my bola; on our own Western plains I have fanned them with my six-gun; aboard ships on every sea, in waterfront dives of every port, in tall city buildings and in quiet suburban homes, I have wrenched from my victims their last agonized cries, watched expressions of incredulity spread across their tortured faces. I have killed all these men in all these places -- for a penny a word...."

-- Opening lines from "A Penny A Word," a bitter confession published in the April 1936 issue of H. L. Mencken's American Mercury. The anonymous author is now thought to have been Anthony M. Rud, novelist turned pulp writer, and my grandfather.

"Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion."

-- L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology.

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