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The apocalypse, brought to you by the letters Y, A, L and E

By Harriet Staff

The Yale Daily News is republishing a dozen visions of the apocalypse commissioned from well known writers at a dollar a word (but because the editors were cash-strapped college kids in 1974, each writer was limited to 20 words). “As the editors noted in that 12th issue of the Magazine, ‘The writers that exceeded twenty words did so out of a love for their craft.'” Why the apocalypse? Perhaps they were just stunned to see their magazine reach its second anniversary.

Part one features John Cheever, Tom Wolfe and William Styron; part two includes Bernard Malamud, Eric Fromm and Anthony Burgess (who forgoes his fee so that editors John Tierney, Christopher Buckley, and Eric Goodman can buy themselves “a nice drink”); part three contributors range from Ayn Rand (who is still doing her part to bring about the apocalypse from beyond the grave) to John Barth, with visits from William Saroyan and Vladimir Nabokav’s wife:

VN thanks you for your charming letter. He says he is ‘trying to finish writing a novel before the end of the world.’ He regrets he must decline your kind offer.”

– Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov

But the hands down winner in the apocalyptic race is Ray Bradbury who has faith that humankind can outrun the four horsemen when the time comes. In part four, alongside Joyce Carol Oates and Art Buchwald, Bradbury writes:

Gloryosky, guys, there ain’t gonna be no end to no world! Sorry to disappoint you and depress you with my exuberant good spirits and optimism, but we will build starships and move on out to Alpha Centauri and beyond and then we won’t give a damn about what happens to Earth, for we will, in sum, live forever, give or take a billion years. End of quote. Send me my twenty bucks!

– Ray Bradbury

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Posted in Poetry News, Uncategorized on Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 by Harriet Staff.