rather than an attempt to make us insiders to an experience.nIn contrast, despite all its floweriness and Reader’s Digestndeseriptiveness (and pardy because of that), Carrying thenFire welcomes the reader. Long sentences and fancy phrasesncan also cover up feeling and exclude outsiders, but Collinsnwants us to understand, to experience, to enter into thenCommand Module and see what he has seen. Because he isnon the side of language, he is on our side, and so we forgivenhim for his purple passages.nAs we learn in First on the Moon, Collins had anreputation at NASA as a deflator of “gobblygook.” He isnquoted as saying that “what the space program needs isnmore English majors.” He dedicates his own book ton”Ferdinand E. Ruge, Master of English at St. AlbansnSchool in Washington, who taught me to write a sentence.”nArmstrong and Aldrin, on the other hand, are notoriouslynlaconic, “extraordinarily remote,” as Norman Mailernputs it in Of a Fire on the Moon. First on the Moon reportsnthat when Armstrong and Aldrin respond to the congratulationsnof ground control with a mere “thanks a lot” afterntouching down on the lunar surface, then fall silent,nCollins’ wife, back in Houston, asks: “Why aren’t theyncheering?” then hastens to add, half-humorously, “I guessnthat’s why they don’t send a woman to the moon—shenwould jump up and down and yell and weep.” And, whennCollins later enthuses over a large lunar crater by saying,n”God, it’s huge! It’s enormous! It’s so big I can’t even get itnin the window. That’s the biggest one you have ever seen innyour life. Neil, God, look at this central mountain peak.nIsn’t that a huge one? . . . You could spend a lifetime justngeologizing that one crater alone, you know that?” Neilnsimply says, “You could.” Though Norman Mailer praisesnCollins for his “easy conversational manner,” “Irish elegance,”nand “graceful manners,” in the world of Apollo II,nelegance and grace make Collins an outsider: Like FrancisnMacomber, he may have queered the experience by tryingnto talk about it.nWe might tentatively say that in Carrying the Fire angentler voice sets itself up—perhaps inadvertently—in ankind of creative tension with the voice of manly silence. Inn0/ a Fire on the Moon, his book about Apollo II, Mailerncharacteristically transforms this tension into a full-scalenwar. From the beginning, he rails against the inability of thenApollo 11 astronauts to speak in any language but antechnological “code,” incapable of “philosophical meandering”nor “nuances of feeling.” For Mailer the reticence ofnthe astronauts transcends the issues of masculinity, althoughnthe equation of heroism and manly silence goadsnhim into asserting his own manhood as a writer. In thisnsense, perhaps. Mailer once again betrays himself as annall-too-typical urban, effeminate male pretending to be antough guy.nAt first glance. The Right Stuff seems rather differentnfrom Of a Fire on the Moon. Wolfe remains absent from thennarrative, recreating the experience of the participantsnthrough omniscient third person narration. Because of hisnauthorial silence, Wolfe’s sympathies seem to be with thenpilots he describes, which is probably why Bruce Feirsteinnin Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche puts The Right Stuff in “ThenReal Man’s Library,” along with Hemingway’s The OldnMan and the Sea. But it is difficult to believe that Wolfenshares the pilot’s rejection of emotive language when hisnown writing is subtie and figurative. Even in Wolfe’s mostnsuccessful recreations of the language and experience of testnpilots, the very “foregroundedness” of his style—to borrowna term from Tony Tanner—interposes a layer of irony.nReading him we say, here is Wolfe amplifying, repeating,npiling up figures: We never forget that we are participatingnin a verbal performance.nSince the experience of the astronauts is fundamentallynnonverbal, the journalist is by definition an outsider,nsomeone who does not have the right stuff. But rather thannperceive Wolfe as trapped in this quandary, we can see himnexploiting it for his own purposes. Because he has continuallynemphasized that the astronauts represent realms ofnexperience inaccessible to the journalist, the densely texturednlanguage comes to signify his allegiance to verbalnexpression and his identity as a writer. His literary stunts,nswoops, and dives are a kind of dogfight with his subject.nCritics have recentiy argued that the increasing importancenof nonfiction as a genre reflects our lost belief innfiction as interpretation. Nonfiction is grounded in “facfnand devoid of the commentary and shaping we oncenexpected from a Victorian novel. In this view, the genrenwould belong with Huck and Robert Wilson and Yeager, asna rejection of “frills” which can no longer be sustained innour accelerated culture. Still, both Of a Fire on the Moonnand The Right Stuff lire efforts to assert the authority of thenverbal against the threat of the nonverbal style flying in thenface of manly reticence on the one hand and technologicalnchallenge on the other.nIn the forthcoming issue of Chronicles:nCultural Conservatismn”The old Episcopal Book of Common Prayer reminds usnthat we are surrounded by ‘the communion of saints.’nIndeed, in the course of hfe, one encounters a number ofnpeople—many in the most humble circumstancesn—whose impact is so intense that they are ever in mind.nThey remain a living presence long after they die physically.nIn such eases, it is hard to say whether the memorynis less powerful than the man. And what, philosophically,nis the difference between those physically alive but sleepwalkingnthrough their daily existence and those physicallyndead but alive in the being of others?”nnn—from “Transcendent Memory”nby Anthony HarrigannJUNE 1387/25n