In one of his previous volumes of reminiscences - and there have been more than a half dozen - William Saroyan recommends that fledgling writers learn touch typing so that they can turn out books as fast as their fingers fly. Soroyan himself has certainly followed his own advice: his first book resulted from a bet he made with himself to write a complete story every day for a month. Out of that Simenon-like effort he brought forth some uncommonly good stories later collected as The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze. Since then, Saroyan has scarely lessened his pace as dozens of novels, stories, and plays have continued to ticker-tape out of his typewriter.
What may ne suprising is that so much of this work has been published. A handful of stories, the short novel. Tracy's Tiger, and the play, The Time of Your Life are worthy achievements, but too often Saroyan's work has been merely, slapdash and mechanical. Chance Meetings. his most recent of memoirs, is unfortunately such a production. The style is pleasantly conversational, but without real flavor - flat, deadpan sentences sprinkled with italics for emotional emphasis. The stories ramble pointlessly, though occasionally revealing an unexplained bitterness beneath the bonhomie. Their subject matter is exceptionally familiar: boyhood memories of vague, homespun Afmenian characters - a carpenter who writes poetry, a pimp, lawyers scrupulous and otherwise - crisped over with philosophical cliches about life, love, and the writer's lot. Sadly, one encounters in Chance Meetings only the five-finger exercise of a man with nothing much to say. (Norton, $8.95)