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 The central character of Hazard’s book was an actress, young and very beautiful. Her lover was a newspaper man, deeply in love with her and yet not faithful, in one instance anyhow. This brought about a Zolaesque scene in which she another actress with a hairbrush. There was plotting on the part of somebody in regard to a local murder, which brought about the arrest and conviction of the newspaper man for something he knew nothing about. This a great struggle on the part of Theo to save him, which resulted in her failure and his death on the guillotine. A priest figured in it in some way, grim, jesuitical.  
To this day some of the scenes of this book come back to me as having been forcefully done—the fight between the two actresses, for one thing, a midnight feast with several managers, the scene, a . I am not sure of the name of the newspaper man who with Hazard on this work, but the picture of his death in an later, painted for me by Hazard, and the of his daily life, stand out even now as Poe-like. He must have been blessed or cursed with some such as that of Poe, dark, gloomy, reckless, , for he was a dope-fiend and died of dope.
Be that as it may, this work, never published, so far as I know, was the opening wedge for me into the realm of realism. Being distinctly imitative of Balzac and Zola, the method was new and to me impressive. It has always struck me as curious that the first novel written by an American that I read in manuscript should have been one which by reason of its subject matter and the puritanic character of the American mind could never be published. These two youths knew this. Hazard handed it to me with the statement: “Of course a thing like this could never be published over here. We’d have to get it done abroad.” That struck me as odd at the time—the fact that if one wrote a fine thing nevertheless because of an American standard I had not even thought of before, one might not get it published. How queer, I thought. Yet these two artists had already encountered it. They had been overawed to the extent of thinking it necessary to write of French, not American life in terms of fact. Such things as they felt called upon to relate occurred only in France, never here—or at least such things, if done here, were never spoken of. I think it nothing less than that these men, or boys, fresh, forceful, with a burning desire to present life as they saw it, were thus completely overawed by the moral of the American mind and did not even dare to think of sending their novel to an American publisher. Hazard was deeply impressed with the of attempting to do anything with a book of that kind. The publishers wouldn’t stand for it. You couldn’t write about life as it was; you had to write about it as somebody else thought it was, the ministers and farmers and dullards of the home. Yet here he was, as was I, busy in a profession that was hourly revealing the fact that this sweetness and light code, this idea of a perfect world which contained neither sin nor shame for any save outcasts, criminals and , was the trashiest lie that was ever upon an all too human world. Not a day, not an hour, but the pages of the very newspaper we were to fill with our observations were full of the most pictures of the lack of , honesty, kindness, even average human intelligence, not on the part of a few but of nearly everybody. Not a business, , not a home, not a political or social organization or an individual but in the course of time was guilty of an of some kind of this seemingly perfect and unbroken social and moral code. But in spite of all this, judging by the editorial page, the pulpit and the noble mouthings of the average citizen speaking for the benefit of his friends and neighbors, all men were honest—only they weren’t; all women were and without evil intent or design—but they weren’t; all mothers were gentle, self-sacrificing slaves, sweet pictures for songs and Sunday Schools—only they weren’t; all fathers were kind, affectionate, saving, industrious—only they weren’t. But when describing actual facts for the news columns, you were not allowed to indicate these things. Side by side with the most amazing columns of crimes of every kind and description would be other amazing columns of sweet mush about love, undying and sacrificial, editorials about the perfection of the American man, woman, child, his or her sweet deeds, intentions and the like—a wonderful dose. And all this last in the face of the other, which was supposed to represent the false state of things, merely passing indecencies, accidental errors that did not count. If a man like Hazard or myself had ventured to transpose a true picture of facts from the news columns of the papers, from our own reportorial experiences, into a story or novel, what a howl! would have followed much more swiftly in that day than in this, for today turgid slush approximating at least some of the facts is tolerated. Fifteen years later Hazard told me he still had his book buried in a trunk somewhere, but by then he had turned to fiction, and a year later, as I have said, be blew his brains out.
Just the same the book made a great impression on me! It gave me a great respect for Hazard, made me really fond of him. And it my mind definitely on this matter of writing—not a novel, , but a play, a form which from the first seemed easier for me and which I still consider so, one in which I work with greater ease than I do in the novel. I mentioned to Wood and McCord that Hazard and another man had written a novel and that I had read it. I must have enthused over it for both were impressed, and I myself seemed to gain , especially with Wood. It was generally admitted then that Hazard was one of the best reporters in the city, and my being taken into his confidence in this fashion seemed to Wood to be a significant thing.
And not long after that I had something else to tell these two which carried great weight. There was at that time on the editorial page of the paper a column entitled “Heard in the Corridors,” which was nothing more than a series of imaginary interviews with passing guests at the various hotels, or interviews condensed into short tales, about six to the column, one at least being to a guest at each of the three principal hotels, the others standing accredited as things heard at the union Station or upon the street somewhere. Previous to my arrival this column had been written by various men, the last one having been the already famous W. C. Brann, then editor of the brilliant . By the time I arrived, however, Brann had departed, and the column had . Hazard was doing a part of it, Bellairs another, but both were tired of it. At first when I considered it (a little extra work added to my daily reporting) I was not so pleased; indeed it seemed an all but impossible thing to do. Later, however, after a trial, I discovered that it gave free to my wildest imaginings, which was exactly what I wanted. I could write any sort of story I pleased, romantic, realistic or lunatic, and credit it to some imaginary guest at one of the hotels, and if it was not too improbable it was passed without comment. At any rate, when this was assigned to me I went to get names of personages stopping at the hotels. I inquired for . As a rule, the clerks could give me no information or were indifferent, and seemed to take very little interest in having the hotel advertised. I returned and racked my brain, that I could manufacture names as well as stories, and forthwith scribbled six , attaching such names as came into my mind. The next day these were all duly published and I was told to do the column regularly as well as my regular assignments. My had won me a new task without any increase in pay.
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