Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin:
Reflecting on their friendship many years later, Ellison would credit Hyman as a crucial influence on his fiction. If Ellison was struggling with a project, Hyman often stepped in to encourage him. In 1943, when Ellison was about to ship out to the merchant marine, Hyman urged him first to finish “Flying Home,” the story that would be his breakthrough work. Ellison was “reluctant,” but at Hyman’s insistence, he sat down at the typewriter in the living room on Grove Street and “brought the yarn as close to completion as time permitted, then headed for the North Atlantic.” By the time he returned, it was already in print: Hyman had submitted it to Cross Section, an anthology of new writing that also published one of Jackson’s stories, “Behold the Child Among His Newborn Blisses.” For both, it was their first “appearance between hard covers,” Ellison proudly remembered. The influence flowed both ways: Ellison also read Jackson’s and Hyman’s drafts and offered comments. Two years later, when the opening to Invisible Man came to Ellison at a friend’s farm in Vermont, he wrote to Hyman immediately to share both his excitement and his anxiety. “This section of the novel is going very well—though God only knows what the hell it’s all about. Of one thing I’m sure, any close symbolic analysis of it [a joking reference to Burke] will reveal how completely crazy I am.” Over the course of his long and often painful effort to write the novel, Ellison would regularly call upon Hyman for guidance, at one point saying that he was “invaluable” during the process. Rampersad and other have suggested that absent Hyman’s influence and encouragement, Ellison might not have written Invisible Man.