Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live


College Literary Magazine Republishes Short Story By A Young Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson, known for "Rushmore" and "The Fantastic Mr. Fox," once wrote a short story called "The Ballad of Reading Milton."
Wes Anderson, known for "Rushmore" and "The Fantastic Mr. Fox," once wrote a short story called "The Ballad of Reading Milton."

Thanks to Vulture's Edith Zimmerman, I discovered "The Ballad of Reading Milton," an old chestnut that has been resurrected -- some 21 years after the now-famous director submitted it to the University of Texas at Austin's Analecta -- on the journal's blog.

Here's the opening paragraph:

Max, sitting alone on the roof of Philly Joe Jones' East Way Out Bar and Grille, on Bleeker Street, cracked open a Dr. Pepper. He did not immediately drink it, but, instead, placed it delicately on the back of his left hand. He drew his fingers away from the rim and balanced the can, with tremendous confidence and poise, for thirty-six seconds, at which point his concentration broke. The image of Jack Kennedy holding a half-empty Styrofoam coffee cup infected his mind. He could not block it out. He was incapable of avoiding a slight, but sufficient, overcompensation. The can sank to the floor and nailed the steel mesh cover of an air conditioning vent, chugging its contents through the grating. The compressor, previously roaring, became silent. Max stood and dropped his hands into his pockets. Looking out into the street, he noticed the presence of an African lotus blue Porsche 911 turbo, double parked. It was not his.


And so it continues...

Sure, we could debate the artistic merit of the piece, or look for similarities between the story and Rushmore, one of Anderson's first films, which also featured a protagonist named Max. But I'm more interested in your thoughts on some comments that follow.

Writer says, "It's pretty crappy to post someone's juvenilia [sic] like this without consulting them first. How would you like it if someone posted your second grade essays on the Internet. For shame."


Then, he/she says, "It's one thing to want your story to be read in your school's limited-circulation literary journal when you're 19 years old. It's another to be in your 40's and want that story to resurface."

The Internet wasn't even a consideration for anyone publishing anything when this story was published. There is a sense in which this is a little like posting nude college-art-show photos of the guy.

Do you agree?

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit