A TIME FOR GEORGE STAVROS

Unpublished                                   {See also: HUMPTY DUMPTY IN OAKLAND}

TTHC 308:

After turning in JAPED to Meredith in Oct 1955 Dick... gave up sf to concentrate exclusively on his literary fiction. A TIME FOR GEORGE STAVROS was the first of the new cycle to arrive...

TTHC    307:   {...} Dick grounds his keenly observed characters in locales he knew well. This generally means close to home -- Kleo recalls that A TIME FOR GEORGE STAVROS "started on the basis of a car mechanic down near us on San Pablo Avenue."

TTHC    363:    The SMLA card for GEORE STAVROS, in 1956, read (impying one rewrite of it already)

   Didn't like this before, & still don't. Long, rambling, glum novel about 65 yr old Greek immigrant who has a weakling son, a second son about whom he's indifferent, a wife who doesn't love him (she's being unfaithful to him). Nothing much happens. Guy, selling garage and retiring, tires{sic} to buy another garage in new development, has a couple of falls, dies at end. Point is murky but seems to be that world is disintegrating, Stavros is supposed to be symbol of vigorous individuality, now a lost commodity.


PKDS Pamphlet #1    3

{...}

    I have been contemplating what you say about my STAVROS book. I feel that it is the weakest of the lot, that the ending falls apart But I agree that Stavros himself is a fine character. Why you should have such special fondness for that book I can't make out. All I can do is agree that, yes, I do think there's a better book to be made out of the character and some of the scenes (in particular the whole business where Stavros travels up to see the construction going on, runs into Carmichael, falls and has a heart attack, etc.) And the scene where he fights with Andrew. So let's get down to business. I'll outline my reaction to the concrete notions which you present.

    George Stavros is as good a character as any I have produced. There is as much chance that he could be the basis of a successful book as any character, so I would be willing -- even pleased -- to start with him as a premise in this work.

    I will, then, scrap the book called A TIME FOR GEORGE STAVROS, withdraw it, and take it apart. I'll save the theme that here is an old man with enormous appetite, wit, and tenacity, a kind of genius -- and yet hopelesly ignorant of the contemporary ways by which men rise to economic and social success. I'll saddle him with the physical defect of a failing heart, and equip him with an animal-like cunning, an ability to spar, fight, scrap and wrassle. And -- an ability to see through humbug, the pretensions of others.

{...}{...}

A TIME FOR GEORGE STAVROS. Here, a man arises who denies the above. Contact with vile persons does not blight or contaminate or doom the really superior; a man can go on and be successful, if he just keeps struggling. There is no trick that the wicked can play on the good that will ultimately be successful; the good are protected by God, or at least by their virtue. The good have better luck than the bad; otherwise they could not afford to be good in the first place. It is the weak who are vicious, not the strong. And the weak, although very dangerous, have no stamina; they can be outlasted. And they are terribly gullible; they can be misled by a good man who is astute enough to put up a good line. In fact, the weak -- e.g. Andrew -- will mislead themselves with their own silly stories, their vain and pompous plans. Stavros is an aristocrat. He would have been able to manage Hig; he would have slighted him, sent him packing, humiliated him. Being able to see through pretensions, Stavros would have not even been worried by Hig. But he would have had trouble with Milt Lumky, whom he would have identified as a good man, a fine fellow. It would have baffled him that Lumky, in the end, did a bad thing. Lumky's bitternes would've made Stavros bitter, too. They probably would've stepped out and taken a couple of swings at each other. There would have been bad feeling between them. And Bruce's wife -- Stavros simply would have avoided her without even trying to understand her. Likewise Fay, in CONFESSIONS OF A CRAP ARTIST. Stavros would have avoided her by instinct, not insight. He would have liked Charley Hume, but shaken his head sadly at the man's stupidity. He would have kicked Nat in the ass for ever getting mixed up with her. Reform her? Hell -- dunk her head in a bucket. Without having read TAMING OF THE SHREW, Stavros would have known what to do. And yet the contemporary institutions would have defeated Stavros as they defeated the two kids in THISBE. Or so I believe.

{... ...}

{PKD>Eleanor Dimoff, 01 Feb 1960}{Complete text of this letter can be found in  PKDS Pamphlet #1 or in THE SELECTED LETTERS OF PKD:1938-1971}
{See also: HUMPTY DUMPTY IN OAKLAND}



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