University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The University of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Richard, George (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 59, Number 5 (Nov. 1957)

Herb Kubly: cheerful pessimist,   p. 15


Page 15


H    ERBERT KUBLY, one of Wiscon-
     sin's most accomplished and suc-
 cessful serious writers, was chatting a
 few months ago with a group of friends
 from his University days.
   The central figure in a conversation-
filled living room, he was recounting his
interview with an advertising agency
board chairman who had been impressed
with Kubly's American in Italy and
Easter in Sicily and who had in mind
a $50,000 proposition.
   "It turned out," smiled Kubly, "that
this fellow wanted me to do a book
about 'breadcasting.' How a variety of
now-famous people had at one time cast
their bread upon the waters. He offered
me a huge research staff; all I had to do
was put the words together.
   "I finally confessed to him that I was
more of a pessimist than an optimist,
and that I just couldn't do it."
   Kubly added, a bit ruefully: "The
book probably would have made me
$50,000, too."
   And, while $50,000 rarely hurts any-
one, as Kubly would be first to admit,
his success as a frequent contributor to
such magazines as Holiday, Atlantic
Monthly and New Yorker, as well as
his book royalties, entitle him to indulge
his principles to a greater degree than
can many less fortunate writers.
  Kubly's pessimism, therefore, is a
relative thing. It's not easy to appear
downcast when your first major book
has won the National Book Award for
distinguished non-fiction; when your
next is judged in the New York Times
to be even better than the first; when
your first play has critics comparing you
to Shaw, Saroyan and Anderson, and
when your satisfaction with the joys of
living is as obvious as an American
tourist on the Via del Corso.
  Kubly's happy propensity to accumu-
late credits from critics, and checks in-
stead of rejection slips from editors, can
be traced to his campus days when he
helped pay his way by writing for True
Story, several farming magazines and
for Wisconsin newspapers. He also be-
came theater editor of the Daily Car-
dinal, a literary endeavor which brought
complimentary  admission  to  various
forms of culture on the campus.
  Contemporaries of Kubly can picture
him best in a great bearskin coat that he
       (continued on page 29)
  HERB KUBLY
cheerful pessimist
Kubly on a rooftop at the Amedican Academy in Rome.
  National Book Award winner
shows keen appreciation ofpeople
15


Go up to Top of Page