To the editors:
Thank you for the. excellence of Bill Wyman’s words on the New Yorker [May 22]. He has such a clear view of William Shawn that I am tempted to believe he himself once worked for the magazine. I did, between November 1966 and November 1968, and I can tell you (although I’m sure you could guess already) that every few Fridays layer upon layer of big manuscript envelopes would be ranged up against the furniture, filling with manuscripts Mr. Shawn would take home with him to read, and whether those manuscripts ever found their way into the New Yorker, the authors were treated with utter kindness, so it is no wonder that those authors who did publish in the magazine returned his loyalty completely.
One of the dicta on the 19th floor (unwritten, naturally) was that the New Yorker made no attempt to be timely in the way that other magazines attempt to be. My favorite story was of the writer who had sold a piece to the magazine and been paid for it, and had waited so long for it to be published that he had given up and taken a job as a teacher, deciding he didn’t have a chance with writing. One day at his school he had a telephone call from New York: it was the checking department, six years later, calling to query him about some matter in paragraph six.