the Vonnegut letter continues


I had always reserved a chapter for Sturgeon, in my little history of SF. At his best, his writing rose to awful and remote heights, he was always a colossal personality, and he influenced everybody. Even still, Ted (I am sure you called him that over dinner in Barnstable,) seemed to keep popping up at odd points in too many interviews, often becoming the exception to whatever rule I may have thought I'd found. He kept leading me, not towards SF’s outer spaces, but its inner places.

By the way, Ted was the idol and inspiration to a certain Samuel R. Delany, an unusual writer whose big book was “Dhalgren” (1975), and who has been an adviser to me since I started doing this stuff, four years ago. I am enclosing a VHS copy of “Atlantis and Other New York Tales.” A strangely sweet and innocent film mostly about sex, it owes its existence to my larger SF documentary.


Barry Malzberg in his study in Teaneck, New Jersey

How can I describe the cumulative effect of Vonnegut, Malzberg, Sturgeon (and Delany, and others) on this film maker? In my search for the secret life of science fiction, (and it took me a while to realize this), I had arrived at the secret life of the writer. Maybe I hadn't “arrived,” but I certainly was heading in that direction. I even assumed a working title, “The Secret Life of the Science Fiction Writer.” A bad joke, but it sounded nice at the time, and I knew I would eventually have to rethink it. About six months ago, I did rethink, and decided on a better title, “The Real Trout.”

“The Real Trout” is about writers. Old Kilgore may be a heck of a writer, but he is a tricky subject, and not just because the facts of his life constantly change, but because there’s a little Trout in a lot of writers.

So, this movie is about you, but not exclusively, because it's equally about Ted and Barry. It's also about Philip José Farmer and Harlan Ellison and experimental writer, Richard Kostelanetz. It's about many others. And then it's about markets and money and lovers and critics and self-esteem and family and isolation and too many other things to mention. I have just started the editing, though I haven't quite finished shooting, but I can tell you how it begins-- with the story of the greatest writer who ever lived.* (Thank you for that one).

*An episode from Twain’s “Extract from Captain Stormfield’s Trip to Heaven"


We go in search of the real Trout

back to beginning of "Trout" pages

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