February 20, 1944
Mr. Richard Mealand
New York City
Good God! This is in relation to the postscript of your letter—about your having lunch with “an ardent admirer” of mine—Hugh MacLennan, author of “Barometer Rising.” Look up your synopsis of “Barometer Rising” and see who covered it for Paramount. If you keep them, see my comment on it.
My ardent admirer? I have been Hugh MacLennan’s ardent admirer for three years. I have been selling him to everyone I know. In all the time I was a reader for Paramount, I found only two books which I liked so much that I wanted to buy them, and did. The mystery story “Grim Grow the Lilacs” [by M. Randolph]—and “Barometer Rising.” I even wanted to write Hugh MacLennan a fan letter at the time, but I didn’t, because of the Paramount rule that readers musn’t communicate with authors. I think “Barometer Rising” is one of the best novels I have ever read and certainly the best first novel.
So you can imagine how your postscript affected me. I gasped aloud when I read it. You’ll understand why this would appeal to my sense of the dramatic. It’s so beautifully right—things like that happen in books, but very seldom in real life. Offhand, I can’t think whom I would like to see “profoundly influenced by The Fountainhead” rather than Hugh MacLennan.
Will you do me a favor? It seems to be your fate always to be the source of good things for me. Will you tell this to Hugh MacLennan—or show him this letter, if you wish—and ask him to write to me. I would like to hear from him about “The Fountainhead.” Or give me his address and I’ll write to him—now that I’m no longer a Paramount slave.
However, I think of my period of slavery with tenderness and gratitude—and I miss you all very much. I won’t come back with “Rolls Royces and a new hair-do,” but I will come back with the same old sloppy haircut—and a Packard. Yes, that’s what I bought. Don’t get frightened, it’s only a 1936 Packard, though in perfect condition and magnificent-looking—black, half-a-block long and drips with chromium.
I haven’t seen anyone, but I will, now that I have a car. I’ll get in touch with Mr. Dozier and Miss Reis, as you suggest. Only I don’t want to be “snatched” out of Warner Brothers, at least not right now. I know it sounds incredible for Hollywood, but things are going wonderfully for me so far. I fully realize that maybe it won’t go like this to the end—but up to the present it has been perfect. I am half-way through my shooting script and Mr. Blanke is enthusiastic about it. I have just signed a contract with them to remain until I finish the script (they had me only for ten weeks, if you remember)—at a salary of $750 a week.
I don’t know when I’ll be back in New York, but in spite of all this grandeur, I’m quietly dreaming of the day when I’ll get back and start work on my next novel. The thing haunds me already.
Please give my love and regards to Frances. May I add love to you, too?