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The Bellow/Parcells Letters

Forget worrying over book contracts, alcoholism, or unwanted kids—where do Nobel laureate authors turn for advice on their hair? KEN KRIMSTEIN discovers the lost correspondence between two great authors.

Dear Bill,

Baseball? DeLillo can have baseball. Roth can have baseball. I’m here to tell you (as a Nobel laureate and the only living writer to be on the Modern Library 100 list not just once, but TWICE!) that for me, it’s all about football. And if it’s all about football, Bill, it’s all about you.

(OK, DeLillo did tackle football with Endzone, but hell, even Harold Bloom over at Yale hardly rated it! And what’s with DeLillo being called so ‘attractive,’ so ‘virile,’ so ‘hirsute’ by People Magazine? The guy’s almost as reclusive as Jerry Salinger.)

To get to the point, Bill, I do appreciate what you’re up against down there in the Texas sun, how it glares, oblivious of asphalt lanes and warm whiskey in too-dirty glasses. How those hot white sidewalks outside of Rice University reflect, glaring, squinty, patchy-pasty thoughts of pad on pad in the football-mad state of being which really deserves to be a nation, a country, a land unto itself, epicurian and tawdry, epistolary and turgid, on and on the sidewalk ribbon of pounding muscle on muscle goes, ‘get ‘em Billy,’ they say, thinking New Jersey, what’s New Jersey got to do with down here, down home, football. I hear. I feel. I listen.

Sincerely,
Saul

P.S. I really like what you did with the yellow hair thing. Let me tell you, it makes you look like unbridled anger, unrepentant fury, really cool. Look, I know, 62, you’re no spring chicken, even with the Super Bowl rings. Me, (even with the Nobel and the fact that I’m the only living author with not one, but TWO books on the Modern Library top 100), to stay young I’ve had to marry a lot of women. I’ve married something like five or six already, I think.


* * *


Saul,

Gotcha. You hit, you live. Drop and give me 40. Youknowwhamsay’n? Hot, hell yeah. It’s Texas isn’t it, not frickin Nova Scotia—I know that much.

And so do my boys.

As for that Bloom up at Yale, I’ve coached a bunch of college in my career, never had time for the Ivy’s. Bunch of whiners. Deconstructionism? My fat you know what. Give me blocking and tackling, nouns, verbs, that’s what I’m talking about here.

Hang in there,
Bill

P.S. If you’re interested in getting your hair dyed, there’s this guy I know down on Ludlow Street.


* * *


Dear Bill,

The poetry of the pain of the pad, yes, heat, we feel/think it. Why question the quarterback, he stands, first crunched over like a cripple, then, unsprung, the battlefield commander, a centurion, proud setting his sights here and there—what of the thousand Friday night games—he looks, he scans, with his piercing vision, legs pummeling, hit the holes hit the holes, you think, you feel it. Forget the two-step, slam them up the middle Bill, push it, flesh on bruised flesh. That’s the way.

In your previous letter, were you by any chance referring to the guy at the salon that has no name behind a plain silver door, just below Houston Street? I know that guy. You think yellow could work for me too? I’m way further past the AARP initiation date than you are, but I’ve still got it, if you know what I mean?

Regards to the family,
Saul


* * *


Dear Saul,

All I’m saying is, if you wanna go fishing, go fishing. You wanna play football, there’s no sacred cows in this parade. Can I be more clear? Yougottawanna Saul. You catch my drift.

Hey, I been meaning to ask you, when’s Ravelstein II coming out?

Yours truly,
Bill


* * *


Bill,

Yes, I ‘catch your drift.’ Think Nagurski, pounding the midway on frozen tundra windswept Hyde Park slate-gray sky, Butkis-black eyes on that tumbleweed Texas turf. Bill, America’s team, a metaphor, yes, a curse, that too.

Saul

P.S. My current wife and I had a discussion regarding me dying my hair. We had a little difference of opinion. If for any reason you want to reach me, I’m staying at the Beacon Hill Hotel for the foreseeable future.

P.P.S. Ravelstein II is proving tricky—him being dead and all. But thanks for the kind words.


* * *


Saul,

That’s OK, I got too much ‘motivating’ to do right now to relax with a good book anyway, unless it’s the frickin’ playbook. There’s just too many powderpuffs down here still. Not on my time, good buddy, not on my time.

Your pal,
Bill

P.S. Oh, I know the Beacon Hill Hotel well.

P.P.S. Think hard about the yellow, it’s a real commitment. See the guy on Ludlow, he’ll set you straight.


* * *


Bill,

Rejoice, rejoice. My wife has come round to the idea of yellow. I made her watch SportsZone, your last press conference when you quoted Rabelais. Something about seeing your spiky locks shimmering in the kliegs, she finally caught my drift.

And furthermore, I’ve been thinking, Coach, so what if Ravelstein’s dead at the end of the book? It could have all been a dream. There’s no reason a character like him shouldn’t come back for another dip.

You the man,
Saul

Ken Krimstein has published cartoons in The New Yorker, Punch, The National Lampoon, and The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. His writing has also appeared on McSweeneys.net and he has read as part of “Trumpet Fiction” at KGB bar in New York City. More by Ken Krimstein