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The Enigma of Reginald Savage

Clark M. Zlotchew
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Old hermit Roy Ozmer reading a book at his house: Pelican Key, Florida

Some startling, even fascinating, discoveries come one’s way purely by chance at times... I was in Buenos Aires during July and August 1984 to interview the world-renowned writer Jorge Luis Borges and several other Argentine authors. One evening I was a dinner guest at the elegant Arroyo Street apartment of the British-born playwright William Shand. Among the guests were writers with whom I had been corresponding for years but whom I had not met in person until that July. Julio Ricci, who had taken the boat from Montevideo to be present at this gathering, was involved in a heated discussion with Fernando Sorrentino. I joined them.

Ricci’s round face was flushed. He turned to me and practically shouted, “Bah, you North Americans are prejudiced against Hispanic and other Third World peoples. You think we are inferior.”

He was waving a sheaf of papers around as he spoke. Then he saw the look of surprise on my face, smiled, and added, “I don’t mean you, of course, Clark. After all, you are here because you appreciate our culture. I’m referring to a general attitude among your countrymen.”

I started to protest when Sorrentino interrupted to explain that those papers Ricci had in his hand were the manuscript of a short story entitled “Oil and Water,” written by an American named Chuck Bradley.

“It’s true, of course,” said Sorrentino, “that this Chuck Bradley has a patronizing attitude toward Latin Americans. But he is only one writer. He represents no one but himself. Besides,” he added, turning to Ricci, “the term ‘racist,’ even applied to Bradley, would be a gross exaggeration.”

Ricci pointed a finger at Sorrentino’s face, and opened his mouth to continue the argument, but I broke in. “Just who is Chuck Bradley and what kind of story is this?”

Sorrentino smiled and smoothed his moustache. He said, “Bradley can’t be anyone of consequence. I never heard of him before.”

“You want to know what kind of story it is?” sputtered Ricci. “Here, take it.” He grasped the manuscript by thumb and forefinger, stretched his arm full length, wrinkled his nose as though he smelled something rotten, and handed it to me. For a fraction of a second I hesitated; I felt I was being offered a package of contamination.

More calmly he added, “I’d like your opinion after you read it.”

“It’s in English,” I foolishly observed.

Ricci raised an eyebrow. Sorrentino laughed, “The story’s by an American. Americans do use English, I believe?”

Disregarding the sarcasm, I said, “Where did you get it, Julio?”

“I found it in the back of a locker at the New York Port Authority Building. On my recent trip to the United States.” He paused, and added, “I see that you have never heard of this... this fellow. I’m glad to hear that, Zlotchew.”

When I finally left the apartment, I took the manuscript (it was actually a carbon copy of a typescript, to be precise) to my less than elegant —I hate to say “cheap”— hotel in the Palermo district. The Hotel Panamé (yes, Panamé, not Panamá) was located on Calle Juan B. Justo near the Avenida Santa Fe. Since the management did not supply heat except on request, typically in the morning and evening, I asked the desk clerk to pump some warm air into my room for the next hour (it was winter in the Southern Hemisphere). I sat up in bed to read “Oil and Water” before falling asleep.

On the back of the last page I was able to distinguish “feb. ’52” in tiny penciled letters. The narrative turned out to be one of those typical adventure tales that appeared in “men’s magazines” in the fifties and sixties. It contained a dash of sex, or rather, the mere suggestion of sex, which in those relatively innocent times would have been considered daring. The action takes place in Venezuela, near the Brazilian and Colombian borders. The location is some fictitious oilfield at the headwaters of the Atabapo, one of the Amazon tributaries. The hero, Bob Johnson, refers condescendingly to the adjacent town, Santa Rosa, as a “tiny outpost of ‘civilization’,” with “civilization” in quotation marks.

Johnson is a tall, lean, blond, blue-eyed Texan: honest, decent, God-fearing, and handy with his fists if the need arises. The villain, Pedro, is a pockmarked, swarthy, short but muscular Venezuelan. He is portrayed as sneaky, lecherous, treacherous, and cruel. Pedro is unscrupulous and will use any means to get what he wants.

There is a beautiful Venezuelan girl, Pepita. A direct quotation from “Oil and Water” describing Johnson’s first impressions of Pepita will provide an idea of Chuck Bradley’s style as well as his protagonist’s attitude:

“Are you satisfy’, or you wan’ sometheen’ else?” This tangy-looking waitress in an off-the-shoulder peasant blouse showing lots of boob flashed her chocolatey eyes at me. Now, I’ve seen women in my time, but, man, this piece of Latin satin made my mouth hang open for a few seconds before I was able to concentrate enough on her question to finally come up with some kind of answer.

I said, “Well, yes, darlin’, I surely do want somethin’ else. What can you offer me?”

“Well... I got plenty...”

“I can see that.”

“Don’ be funny, Gringo. I mean the bar got plenty.”

“Okay, honey. Make it another aguardiente.”

“I be ri’ back, Gringo.” And she swung away like a pendulum in skirts.

The laborers, according to the protagonist, “came from all over: Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Jamaica, Trinidad...” There is a group of Asians as well as a couple of Irishmen and some Italians too, and, according to the American, “who knows what-all.” He then comments, “I’ve never seen so many different skin colors: white, black, brown, yellow, and every shade in between.” Then he informs the reader, “There’s a lot of mixin’ the races down there, you know.”

In the local bar, the language he is able to distinguish, “out of all that babble,” is mostly Spanish, “but there was some Portuguese too, which is like a sloppy Spanish, and a few strange kinds of English, some you could hardly understand, like the Irish kind, and that sort of calypso English of the West Indian Negroes, and some weird clucking language that I guessed was some kind of Indian lingo.”

Pedro wants Pepita, but she (naturally) favors the American.

Pedro is jealous of Pepita’s attention to the Gringo, and smacks her around, telling her that she belongs to him, Pedro. The chivalrous Texan unhesitatingly goes to her defense, and in so doing, is obliged to fight. At one point in the brawl, the two men pause for breath, and Johnson good-naturedly tells Pedro they’ve both been drinking too much aguardiente, extends his hand and says, “Let’s just forget about it and start all over.”

Mistake. Pedro and the bloodthirsty saloon crowd take the Texan’s good nature for cowardice. Pedro breaks a bottle and, after calling the hero —and, incidentally, all Americans— cowards, lunges for his opponent’s face. Johnson parries the thrust and knocks Pedro unconscious. The local crowd, with the enthusiasm of a cockfight audience, screams, “Mátalo, yanqui, mátalo. Keel heem, Gringo. Feeneesh heem!”1

In revenge, Pedro arranges for the savage Chubacari Indians to capture Pepita. The American hires guides from the peaceful Chibcha tribe to take him by canoe to Chubacari country, but they drop him off short of that territory, and flee in terror. With a machete the intrepid narrator cuts his way through the dense jungle and, from the cover of trees, sees Pepita staked out in the center of the Chubacari village, naked. Standing over her, gloating, are two of the savages, naked as well but for multicolored beads around their necks, a knife hanging from a string around their waists and paint on their bodies. Johnson is shocked to see Pedro with them. For what ensues, I quote from “Oil and Water”:

They stood over Pepita and laughed and kind of taunted her. They babbled something to Pedro, and he answered in their savage lingo. Then he spoke to Pepita in Spanish. I could make out enough of what he was saying to know he was getting a charge out of filling her in on what to expect the next day. He seemed to be describing in detail the tortures they were going to subject her to. I couldn’t get all of it but, judging by the expression on her face, it must have been pretty grim.

Then he said something that made me want to run over and rip the son-of-a-bitch’s guts out with my bare hands right then and there, but I controlled myself. He brought up the time she had said she wasn’t like the other girls at the Bar La Gloria. He said, real slow and nasty, “So you don’ crawl out of the woodwork, eh? Well, tomorrow you goin’ to crawl.” Then the bastard sort of giggled and went on. “, you goin’ to crawl mañana. You jus’ wait on tables, eh? Nothing more than that, eh? An’ you peeck your own friends? Well, tomorrow you goin’ to do a lot more, an’ weeth all my friends.” He waved his arm to take in the whole village. “, all my friends. And, of course, with me too. Ha! But don’ worry, chiquita,” and here his voice softened in mock tenderness, “you won’ have to live long weeth the memory, jus’ a few days...” Then he laughed a crazy, filthy laugh, and the three men went back to the hut.

Our hero waits for the village to sleep, cuts Pepita free, literally gives her the shirt off his back, and flees with her through the jungle toward the Atabapo River. When they come to the river bank, they find a beached Chubacari war canoe and four warriors. The Texan manages to kill them all, get himself and Pepita into the canoe and paddle downstream while other war canoes pursue them.

They glide under tree branches marked by brightly colored feathers. At this point the pursuers halt, since, as Pepita explains, the feathers mark the end of their territory, in which the gods are on the Chubacaris’ side. Beyond this point, the Great Spirits of the Chubacari will not aid them. They see the Indians tie Pedro to a tree. Pepita explains this is because, having lost their intended victim, the savages believe the gods are with her and the American, but against Pedro.

After explaining this to the protagonist, “she gave a short laugh, a laugh that a little kid might let out when some grownup who’s been bugging him falls down a flight of stairs.” Johnson comments, “It bothered me.” This, of course, would highlight American decency as opposed to foreign sadism. Then Pepita gleefully says, “Let’s watch how they do eet... That dirty peeg. Let’s watch!”

The Texan comments, “Well, damn, that was too much for me,” and upbraids her for being so bloodthirsty. She gives him “a real mean look,” and comments, “Aaayy... You Yanquis... Soft hearts!” He clarifies, “And believe me, she didn’t mean it as a compliment.”

Johnson informs the reader that he and Pepita spent the next month in “pretty close company, if you get my drift,” but in the end they realized they “weren’t exactly the parts of the same jigsaw puzzle; we didn’t fit too well. We were more like oil and water.”

Johnson gives notice to the oil company and flies back to Houston via Caracas. The author has his narrator philosophically explain, “If two people have different ways of looking at life, it doesn’t necessarily mean that one has the right way of looking at it and the other has the wrong way. That’s not the way it is. It just means they’re made of different stuff, like oil and water, and like oil and water, they just can’t mix, no matter how hard they try.”

As I read it, I realized that, thinking of the attitude of everyone else in the story, this tolerant opinion on the part of the narrator actually flattered the American reader into thinking that we are all good people and that everyone else is evil. The Anglo-Saxon hero is so generous that he is even non-judgmental of those wicked and inferior people “down there.”

I could see what Julio Ricci was so excited about. And, of course, the story could be thought of as racist. However, American society in the fifties was very different from today’s society, and we should probably take this into account in judging Chuck Bradley. Fernando Sorrentino, after all, believed Bradley was merely patronizing rather than frankly racist. More to the point, I thought Ricci was wrong in saying that Bradley’s perspective reflected the attitude of Americans today.

Curiously, the matter did not end with my reading the story in Buenos Aires. There were fascinating repercussions several months later.

One Friday afternoon of the Fall semester of 1984 I was in downtown Fredonia. I was having a beer at the White Inn’s Friday Happy Hour with Dave Lunde, the College writer-in-residence at the time. We were talking about American science fiction, or rather, he was talking about American science fiction; I was half-heartedly listening, my mind wandering somewhere out there in Argentina. Suddenly, something he said snapped me out of my reverie.

“Who?” I interrupted.

“What...? Oh, that was Reginald Savage. Why?”

“No, no. The other name...”

Dave narrowed his eyes. Then he slowly shook his head and smiled. “How many beers did you say you had before I got here?” He sounded somewhat snide.

“C’mon, c’mon. The other name...?”

Dave impatiently fingered the curled tips of his Salvador Dalí-style moustache and sighed. “I was saying that Reginald Savage, one of the finest science fiction writers of the 1950s, sometimes wrote stories for some of the so-called men’s magazines under the pseudonym Chuck Bradley, and that...”

“That’s what I thought you said!”

“Yes. Well...?”

“Chuck Bradley’s real name was Reginald Savage?”

“Apparently.”

“Why did he use a pen name?”

Dave chuckled. “You ever read any of those Bradley stories...?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact.”

“Which one?”

“Something called ‘Oil and Water.’”

“I think I read it too,” Dave said, “just out of curiosity. It was in one of those magazines with men’s adventure stories and lots of pictures of half-naked women. You interested in Savage?”

“In Bradley.”

“Same thing. Look, get over to the Reed Library at the College. Gerda Morrissey will help you dig up some information on Savage, or Bradley, or whatever-the-hell you want to call him.”

Not only did Gerda Morrissey show me where to find a great deal of information in the Reed Library on Reginald Savage (alias Chuck Bradley), she told me that the library of the University of Texas at Austin had a Savage Collection, including letters written by Savage to friends, colleagues and publishers. The Collection also included letters written to him. I flew to Austin during my winter break to study that correspondence. Several of the hand-written letters shed light on the writing of “Oil and Water,” the question of the alias and the personality of the man. For example:

December 18, 1951

Dear (name illegible),

As you know, I’m really getting discouraged. Have been depressed for some time now, actually. I like my science fiction; I think it’s good. “Naturally,” you’re probably saying. But you like it too, and some other friends like it (but are they unprejudiced?). Still, the magazine publishers don’t like it; in fact, they think it’s garbage, to put it politely. I keep getting rejection slips, most without the courtesy of a personalized comment. The few editors who do take the trouble to comment refer to “unbelievability,” or dependence on “gimmicks,” or a “lack of humanity,” etc. You know.

Anyway, while I’m waiting for their time to come, I’ve decided to write the kind of stories I know I can get published, and get paid for. You won’t like the stories very much (neither will I), in fact, I won’t even use my real name in the byline on this crap. But, give the public what it wants, they say. Right?

The rest of this letter is inconsequential. In a letter of January 4 1952, sent to someone addressed as “Querida Peggy,”2 Savage says:

I’ve been very scientific about it, made a thorough study of the market. I feel I could successfully write for the “men’s magazines,” like the publications controlled by United Magazine Service, Inc., especially the one called Hero, which has wide readership in the states of Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado. Now, what does its wide readership in those states tell you? It tells me that a substantial proportion of the readership has connections with the petroleum industry. I believe that most of the readers probably have worked —or contemplate working— in overseas oil fields as well as in domestic ones.

Savage goes on to explain to Peggy that he felt it would be easier to situate the action of his story in Venezuela because the prospective readers, even if they had worked in that country, would not be sufficiently familiar with local customs to be in a position to say that his writing was “phony.” It would have been difficult for him to have placed the action in Texas, for example, because Savage (or Bradley) knew nothing of conditions in those oil fields and in neighboring towns, whereas the readers probably did. Under those circumstances, he writes, Venezuela, paradoxically, was easier for him to write about, even though he had never been there, than writing about Texas or Oklahoma or Colorado.

He knew neither Venezuela nor those western states, but he knew more about Venezuela (through reading) than his readers would, or so he thought. But he definitely knew much less than his readers about those western states.

Still, he placed an additional safeguard in the story —and here he evinces considerable pride in his shrewdness: he situated the action in some spurious oil fields in the southern part of the country at the headwaters of the Amazon tributaries, rather than in the well-known fields of Lake Maracaibo in the north. After all, he reasoned, some readers would undoubtedly have worked in the Maracaibo fields and would have realized that the writer had no familiarity with them.

In his letter of February 2, 1952, to Jack Perloff, one of the Beat Generation poets, Savage admits, with a definite sense of guilt, or shame, that in “Oil and Water” he appealed to the sensibilities of men he believed to be like many of the regular Navy men he had encountered during his time in the Service, especially those from the southern states. The hero would therefore be the archetypal American: white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant. This WASP would also be superior physically, mentally and morally to the surrounding Venezuelans. In this way, Savage calculated, the average reader of Hero would identify with the protagonist and would be rewarded with “a feeling of superiority” while reading the story.

“People want to be entertained,” he writes, “and most people are entertained by being spectators at readily understood, very physical activities, especially those that are appreciated visually. This is why,” he continues, “football and baseball, sports in general, are so popular. And movies, especially those with huge doses of sex and violence. In other words,” he says, “most people don’t want to have to think; they would rather sit back and be stimulated on the instinctual level by vicarious thrills.” He adds, “but they also love to be flattered, to be made to feel superior, and ‘Oil and Water’ does that too.”

Apparently, Savage’s homework was worth the effort; the story appeared in Hero, and, in Savage’s own words, he received a “healthy check,” which represented not only material gain for him, but, he confesses, satisfied his ego in the same manner in which the story was designed to satisfy the ego of the reader. It was a “pat on the back for a job well done,” he writes, the job being that of satisfying the reading public —or at least, a large segment of it— rather than self-indulgently catering to his own artistic needs.

In this letter he metaphorically employs the term “coitus” to represent the artist’s satisfaction of the public’s needs, of “stroking” the public, as we might say today, as opposed to the “masturbation” of indulging in the satisfaction of his own artistic sensibilities. (These references to eroticism lead me to wonder if the term prostitution might be more accurate than mere coitus, considering that Savage performed the artistic act for financial gain rather than out of love. But that is neither here nor there.)

Another letter is especially interesting to me because it deals with a linguistic problem. The letter, dated February 14, 1952, is addressed to Professor A. Bolognesi of Harpur College.3 In it, Savage refers to “Getting the Message,” an unpublished story of his, a story he obviously considers far superior to “Oil and Water.” In this unpublished story, which takes place in some mythical Central American republic, he employs a correct and restrained diction, a rather formal English, a language intended to suggest that the personages are speaking Spanish, their own tongue, rather than broken English.4

On the other hand, the Venezuelans of “Oil and Water” speak English with Spanish accents. This accent was made broadly obvious, he relates, almost a burlesque, in “sight dialect.”5 And, he points out, the “mishandling of English, always considered an indication of stupidity by those [English speakers] who really are not highly intelligent themselves,”6 would aid in providing a feeling of superiority for the reader whose English presumably was perfect, “perfectly native, that is.”

The reader, Savage was convinced, would not trouble himself to reflect that his inability to speak the language of his host country —be it Venezuela, Saudi Arabia or anywhere else— might represent a lack in his own character. Nor would it occur to him that the fluent —even if mispronounced— English of the natives might represent an enviable achievement.

In short, Savage read the temper of the time and place, wrote for a specific readership, and therefore experienced success. In his letters it emerges that he was proud of this accomplishment, and congratulated himself on having provided pleasure, “real entertainment value” for others.

“Oil and Water,” of course, was only the first of a series of similar stories published by Hero and comparable magazines. These stories, under the pseudonym Chuck Bradley, were his mainstay until his science fiction finally became widely accepted. Then he became famous, under what I presumed was his real name, Reginald Savage, as well as rich, on the basis of his science fiction.

Something disturbed me: He repeatedly claims feeling pride in writing and selling “Oil and Water,” and similar stories (and personally, I feel they are valuable documents testifying to the times), yet, his byline was a pseudonym! If he was proud of those stories, why did he sign them with the name Chuck Bradley? Obviously, he did not want to be known as the author of those works; he merely wanted to receive his checks.

The foregoing, fascinating though it may be, pales in comparison with the startling facts I am about to relate. The full extent of his shame at being the author of “Oil and Water” became known to me in late June 1985.

I presented a paper, “Borges, Omar and Amoral Fiction,” at the Symposium on Borges/With Borges held at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania. Jorge Luis Borges was present throughout the four-day event, and, to my great surprise, he remembered me from our interview in Buenos Aires the year before. I had the opportunity to speak with him at length during the symposium. One evening over dinner, Borges astounded me by referring to, and I quote literally, “the great American science-fiction writer”: Reginald Savage!! He went on at great length about Savage’s fertile imagination and his economical use of language.

Apparently, many of Savage’s works had been translated into Spanish; however, Borges had read every single story of Savage’s in the original English. In spite of this, he was totally unaware of the work (and even the existence) of Chuck Bradley. Consequently, I was astonished when Borges stated, in an off-handed manner, “You know, of course, Reginald Savage was not his real name.”

Without a pause (being blind, he could not have noticed the expression of amazement on my face), Borges continued, “He was one of us, of course. Did you know that?”

Receiving no immediate reaction from me (I was too stunned to speak for several seconds), Borges looked puzzled. He seemed to be waiting for some sign of life on my part. Finally, he asked, “Zlotchew, are you there?”

I managed to stammer, “One of you...?”

“Yes. I mean he was Hispanic, or Latino, or whatever the fashionable term is these days. But, didn’t you know that?”

It took me a moment to digest this data.

“Hispanic?! No... I didn’t.”

“Oh, yes, of course. His real name was Nelson Rivera. Curious name for a Hispanic: Nelson... But I’m told it’s popular in Puerto Rico.”

“He was Puerto Rican?”

“Well, he was born in Jersey City, I believe, but his mother was Puerto Rican and his father was from Spain, a gallego, as we call them, via Cuba.7 He took me to meet his mother on one occasion, in 1959 or 1960, I believe. His father had died many years before.”

“Savage, or Rivera,” Borges continued, “had been drinking a great deal one evening. I distinctly recall the pungent aroma of rum. We were discussing the science-fiction genre, and that’s when he told me of his origins.”

“But... Why on earth had he changed his name?”

“Commercial reasons.” Borges paused. “You must remember how it was absolutely necessary —in the 30s, the 40s and part of the 50s— for Hollywood stars and other entertainment figures to have Anglo-Saxon names, in order to be accepted by the masses. Or at least that’s what the Hollywood moguls thought.”

“Yes, that’s true.”

“Of course. For example, do you remember Gilbert Roland?”

“Sure. He was a leading man back in the forties.”

“Actually, he started playing leading men in the silent films of the 1920s —I’m a film buff, you know— and acted in dozens of films right down to 1979 or 1980.”

“All right, but what’s that got to do with...?”

“Do you know his real name, or where he was born?”

“I have no idea.”

“He was born in Mexico: either in Juárez or Chihuahua, I don’t remember which. His real name was Luis Antonio Dámaso de Alonso. They wouldn’t accept a mouthful like that in Hollywood. So he changed it to Gilbert Roland. Much easier, no?” He chuckled.

“But there were actors with Spanish names...”

“Yes, Ramón Novarro, Lupe Vélez, Leo Carrillo, César Romero... But they were restricted to playing Hispanics or other ‘exotics’. You know: mustachioed Latin lovers or criminals or bullfighters, or their female counterparts: hot-tempered, wildly passionate ‘spitfires’ named Pepita or Rosita. This strictly limited their careers while promoting the ridiculous stereotype.”

Borges paused for a moment. “And there were all those Jewish immigrants or their children: Bernie Schwartz, whom we know as Tony Curtis, Edward G. Robinson, who had been born Emmanuel Goldenberg in Rumania, Danny Kaye, born David Kaminsky, John Garfield, born Julius Garfinkle, Kirk Douglas, born Issur Danielovitch...”

I was fascinated. Borges thought for a moment, and then smiled.

“And then there was Rita Hayworth. Ah, yes, Rita Hayworth...” A dreamy expression passed across his features, softening the lines of his face. He paused for a moment. “Rita, one could say, was of both Jewish and Hispanic extraction; her real family name was Cansinos, you know, of Sephardic origin, like the great Spanish poet Cansinos-Assens...”

With this, Borges pounded his cane against the floor, as though indicating he was returning to the subject. “Anyway,” he said, “they were all changing their names. The whole phenomenon is quite astonishing, seen from our vantage point in the present, no?”

“Yes,” I said, “but it’s not like that now...”

“Mercifully, no. All that has changed, of course, and I think it was already changing back in the fifties. Although, more recently, there’s the case of that actor, what’s his name... Martin Sheen, that’s it. Yes, Martin Sheen. They tell me he is, or has been very popular. I’m told his real name is Ramón Estévez. You know? Still, Rivera had legally changed his name to Savage back in the forties.”

I was dumbfounded. Borges faced me (I couldn’t say “looked” at me, since he was blind) for what seemed an eternity, no doubt waiting for some reaction on my part. Finally, thinking either that I had left the table or that I was some kind of imbecile posing as an academic, he shrugged and turned to María Kodama and began to speak to her about some book they were preparing together concerning Japan.

I have not been able to find any written evidence anywhere of Reginald Savage’s Latino background; nevertheless, there is a record, in the Jersey City Registry, of a Nelson Rivera having been born in 1922. However, Nelson is a fairly common name among Puerto Ricans. And Rivera is as common a surname among them as Smith is in the U.S. And there are records of a Nelson Rivera attending school from kindergarten through graduation from Ferris High School in 1940. I didn’t attempt to trace his name any further. Savage, of course, has often referred to his experiences with the Navy in World War II, but I don’t know if he served officially under the name Rivera or Savage.

Personally, I don’t think “Oil and Water” and those other stories under the byline Chuck Bradley are so terrible. They are good examples of adventure fiction. Certainly, they did show the hero as superior to the other characters, but, the hero is the hero, after all. And if the story takes place in foreign locales, the other characters are going to be foreigners, naturally. Of course, the result is that the American hero, being the hero, is portrayed as superior to others. And since this American is, in addition, a WASP, all other races seem to be depicted as inferior. This could produce the impression that the author was a racist. But, of course, he wasn’t, was he?

I could be wrong, but I think Julio Ricci over-reacted. Savage himself, or Chuck Bradley, or Nelson Rivera, over-reacted, obviously, when you think of how he died in 1976 at the age of fifty-four: In his Manhattan condominium, from a lethal combination of alcohol and barbiturates.* He must have been despondent. He must have been feeling some sense of guilt, of having betrayed his origins, perhaps.

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Copyright ©Clark M. Zlotchew, 2009
By the same author RSSThere are no more works at Badosa.com
Date of publicationJune 2009
Collection RSSThe Fictile Word
Permalinkhttp://badosa.com/n322
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