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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Day 20: The Ghost of Mark Twain

I sometimes wonder how I got to where I am. This time Prague. Three years ago France. Last winter Apple Canyon Lake. In 2000 New Port-fucking Richey, Florida. Fourteen years ago the top floor of a Victorian walkup in Chicago’s Logan Square. These are all adult times and places; as children we don’t carry choice like a truncheon.

I know friends who have lived in the same city all their lives. I don’t say this as castigation, or a form of judgment, merely fact; but nonetheless for me is a fact that oozes toward creepy. I ask myself, What’s the draw? Where’s the anchor? How can they want to be there? Not just “there” but THERE? Obvious answers come to mind: family, a well-paying job, children, a future mind towards something that something and something where something is something gets something something something something again.

the qofYeah, now I get it.

Mark Twain traveled the world to see what difference it made against the backdrop of his American life. He liked the outside world. He liked America better. Henry James left America early in his life, spent the majority of his life in England, was never accepted as an Englishman (because he wasn’t … and anyway Brits are like that; just as are American’s), yet realized he was not an American anymore to the relation of anything that he saw on trips back, especially an extended 11-month tour of the States in 1904-05. Gore Vidal lived a great portion of his American life in Italy, preferring the Amalfie Coast’s aquamarine views and Italian hospitality (meaning, being left alone) to America’s saccharine lifestyles. While away, Vidal wrote powerfully and scathingly against America’s failure to its people (socially, politically, economically) and to the world (the dimming “bright shining star” of hope in the night sky of terror and despotism across the planet).

Something always happens. Something is the key.

It’s finding the lock that makes the difference.

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