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My father was a scared man. And he communicated his anxiety to me, so that perhaps more than most writers I wanted to make a practical go of it. And my career was eminently practical. I fastened on to this magazine, the New Yorker, that seemed to me to be the top of its class and I tried to get into it, and I did get into it. It was kind of calculating. Kind of crass. But I framed it to myself as a kind of altruistic ambition. Most jobs in the world were competitive, you had to push someone aside, but writing and art I thought weren't like that. You brought something new into the world without displacing anything else. To entertain people, or to hold out a standard of beauty or to even inform them seemed so self-evidently out of what my father called the rat race. Dog eat dog, in his phrase. He had a despairing picture of the capitalist world, as losers in that system tend to do.