24 / CHRONICLESnprized as rhetorically effective. Even the Athenians admirednthe Spartans’ style. Later, the oratorical Cicero may havenbeen less typical of the Roman character than the morentaciturn Cato and Caesar. A refusal to waste words oftennsignals an allegiance to language—there is a differencenbetween the characters and their creators. Huck Finn isnonly an invention. Behind him stands Mark Twain. Hemingway’sncharacters, for all their reticence, are brought tonlife in powerful, tightly organized prose. In this sense, evennRambo qualifies as art. To the extent that Stallone succeedsnin projecting Rambo’s brutishness, he is relying on—andnendorsing—an arhstic language which Rambo himselfnwould reject.nBut in the recent books by astronauts and test pilots, thenproblem posed by narrative is quite different. Aldrin’snReturning to Earth, Michael Collins’ Carrying the Fire,nWalter Cunningham’s The Mi-American Boys, James Irwin’snTo Rule the Night, as well as We Sewn and First onnthe Moon, the same curious rhetorical problem as in Yeagernexists: a fundamentally inexpressive male is called upon tonwrite about his experiences—aided, all too often, bynprofessional journalists. It is as if Rambo had to make hisnown movie, or Dirty Harry write his own book.nIt becomes moire and more evident as we read thenautobiography that Yeager’s reticence is not rhetorical but anreflection of his genuine aversion to talk. He is a real man,nand as a writer he seems determined to get out of thenconundrum of having to write. To begin with, he uses anghostwriter, Leo Janus, who can easily be blamed for anynexcesses. It is obvious in Yeager when the ghostwriter takesnover, reshapes Yeager’s own syntax and vocabulary (sentencesnlike “On the previous flight, the bullet-shaped X-1nhad zoomed me into the history books by cracking throughnthe sound barrier” are surely not from Yeager’s mouth). Thennarrative is further vitiated by the inclusion of chaptersncalled “Other Voices,” in which Yeager’s wife and colleaguesnpraise his virtues—a convenient way of describingnYeager’s courage and ability without forcing him to violatenthe code himselfnA more fortunate way out of the real man’s rhetoricalnbind is Yeager/Janus’ development of a folksy version of then”tough” style. After the first few chapters, the ghostwriterngradually fades, and Yeager’s countrified, fighter-jock slangncomes to dominate the prose: “ass over tea kettle,” “bitch ofnbitches,” “break my hump,” “near to killed me,” “boughtnthe farm,” “angered in.” The sentences become direct andnsimple. Like Yeager’s frequent references to his WestnVirginia accent, lack of education, and “bad grammar”n(“He barely spoke English,” a friend says of his tanglednsyntax), his brevity is part of an effort to establish hisncredentials as a masculine plain-speaker. His short utterancesnreflect Yeager’s understanding of the kind of masculinenstereotypes about language that William Labov studiednin an interesting experiment several years ago: New Yorkers’nexpectations of a male speaker’s performance in a fight wentnup as the speaker’s use of standard forms of Englishndeclined. Yeager may be forced into writing about hisnexperiences, but as a Hemingwayan fighter he can avoid thenpredicament of unmanliness by refusing feminine standardsnof regulated English.nRather than betray exhilaration or fear, Yeager and othernnnpilots describe their experiences through what Tom Wolfencalls “codes”—stories, anecdotes, jokes, or concrete examples.nThey stick to the particulars, which then point to thenfeelings they want to express. Fighters become storytellers asnopposed to emoters. Yeager as language-denier turns out tonbe a masterful narrator in his own vein as much as HucknFinn—though without Twain’s ironic distance.nThese same matters of masculinity and language are atnthe heart of an earlier book by Michael Collins, CommandnModule Pilot on Apollo II, who is quoted on the cover ofnYeager as saying that “Chuck was never one to pull hisnpunches.” Collins, in Carrying the Fire, often adopts anYeager-style gruffness. Like Yeager, he attacks the press forndemanding that the test pilots express their feelings. LikenYeager, he is preoccupied with the technical intricacies ofnhis work.nIn many ways. Carrying the Fire is a better book thannYeager, and much more sensitive to language. There are annumber of passages where Collins forcefully describes hisnpersonal feelings, without the aid of a ghostwriter. “Whatnpower,” Collins says of maneuvering the T-38 fighter, “toncommand the position of the earth! What glee, to be able tondo it smoothly and precisely!” Writing of his space walknduring Gemini 10, he exclaims: “My God, the stars areneverywhere. . . . We are gliding across the world in totalnsilence, with absolute smoothness; a motion of stately gracenwhich makes me feel God-like as I stand erect in mynsideways chariot, cruising the night sky.” Collins is notnhesitant to communicate other feelings, either—the sensenof “heightened consciousness” as he prepares for a missionnor the tears he fights back when watching Apollo 8 lift offnfor the moon (“For some reason I felt like crying, but Incouldn’t do that in Mission Control, so I clapped a fewngood-working troops on the back and left”).nMore important for the ethos of the book is the literarynambition of Collins’ writing. “I had left the tinsel-shiny,nneon-bedecked high rollers of Las Vegas a few hoursnbefore,” Collins says about his first visit to Edwards AirnForce base, “ricocheting down the highway in an overheatedn1958 Chevy station-wagon, seeking Valhalla or Mecca,nor at least an opportunity to fight for admission into thenarcane world of high-speed flight testing.” Collins’ sentencesnare balanced and sophisticated. The diction is eruditenand metaphorical but not infrequently garish or evennincorrect. “We dressed up in pressure suits,” he writes atnanother point, “climbed to thirty-five thousand feet, got itngoing as fast as was legal (Mach 2), and then pulled back onnthe stick and zoomed upward as high as it would go.nTrading kinetic energy for potential, up we would go, evernmore slowly, until we floated over the top of a lazy arc in annot-so-bad simulation of the weightiessness of space.”nLike Bumpo’s, Collins’ effusions are embarrassing atntimes. He often displays the hyperbole of the freshmanncomposition student trying to sound like a writer. But thenissue is not the quality of Collins’ prose so much as itsnattitude toward the reader. Though Yeager is fast-paced,nconcrete, often humorous, it almost seems to violate ancontractual agreement between writer and reader: Yeagernholds back too much. We are soon made to feel that we arennot a part of what Wolfe calls “the righteous brotherhood,”nand never can be. Yeager’s writing is a temporary expedientn