Education: An Obliging Man

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"On my grave," says Thornton Wilder, "they will write: 'Here lies a man who tried to be obliging.' " And he gives a nervous bark of laughter—the laugh, slightly louder than the occasion warrants, of a man accustomed to putting strangers at their ease.

No one could mistake this faintly fussy, professorial-looking character for a man of the people. Yet he has written some of the most authentic Americana of his time, and numbers among his friends prizefighters, Chicago gunmen, waitresses, and a gambler who is a member of Alcoholics Anonymous....

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