For years, I held on to the uncorrected proofs of the book Life and Death of Eva Peron which was published in 1979. (see photograph at left). I don’t remember how I acquired the uncorrected proofs, probably at one of the many book sales I go to and comb through piles of oddities from reviewers, publishers and disappointed readers. Recently I donated the book to the friends of the local library, so they can use it in a forthcoming book sale. And so the book will make the circuit of used book stores and sales, much like Eva’s corpse has traveled.
I wonder if anyone born after 1995 knows who Evita was? The broadway musical Evita! might help her live on, similar to the way Jesus Christ Superstar helps Jesus.
Ray Bradbury lived a long and creative life. He died last week which sent me to my copy of Zen in the Art of Writing, Essays on Creativity, his 1990 book on the writing process. Bradbury celebrates life and the mystery of imagination in these essays, as he did in public — at readings, lectures and impromptu autographing events.
His essays remind writers to relax and follow the fantastic notions that stalk our logic and reason. In the urgent elaborations and emotional intensity that awaken our minds, we do our best writing. Or maybe it’s sheer surprise at creativity from the unknown dimension that captures our energy. Sometimes it is pure luck and having enough time to get the words down before a writer’s attention wanes. Bradbury’s Zen message to writers: Just write and the rest will unfold. Thank you, Ray Bradbury, for opening your prescient imagination to us.
I opened the collection randomly, trusting serendipity and found this passage in the essay about Dandelion Wine:
Here is my celebration, then of death as well as life, dark as well as light, old as well as young, smart and dumb combined, sheer joy as well as complete terror written by a boy who once hung upside down in trees, dressed in his bat costume with candy fangs in his mouth, who finally fell out of the trees when he was twelve and went and found a toy-dial typewriter and wrote his first “novel.” (page 86)
Reading Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, I traveled so far and deeply into her world in 53 pages that when I caught a glimpse of the clock, I was surprised how little time had passed.
This is what writers do, competent ones, anyway. Suspend time, compress it, extend it. Good writers eliminate time. Their words create a rhythmic magic incantation of higher wisdom.
Religious ritual, war dances, goddess driven examination of entrails — none are as effective a bulwark against time as the writer’s potion. Sunk in the mind product of a writer, we are eternal and without end.
And these are the same rewarding qualities that religions promise.