I planned to write about this yesterday but Toronto's new (to me) streetcars and elevators interfered. If you read yesterday's blog, though you will have noticed something I wrote in dismay about the stamped transit ticket. "What do I do with it?" Another bit of detritus for the hoard. My subject for today.
Ernest Hemingway was a packrat. A new museum with all his artefacts (when does junk become artefact?) has recently opened and an article in the New York Times reviews it and comments on what he saved: everything, even to used bullfight tickets. Forty-seven different endings to A Farewell to Arms; a letter of protest to Harold Ross (former editor of The New Yorker) about a review H. objected to, but then he never mailed the letter, written in pencil, by the way.
Hemingway preferred to write in pencil, first draft, anyway. He said that a pencil draft received one-third more rewrite. Yes. I know someone who writes his first drafts in a fine fountain pen, liking the noise of pen on paper, and who thinks he gets another rewrite out of that. And I remember reading somewhere that H. liked to sharpen pencils before he started work. Everyone has some kind of ritual, I suppose . I wonder how many pencil sharpeners he owned. I have four extant, all duck-heads (I said dUck). I used to have an electric pencil sharpener; I think it remained on the wall of whatever office I was in then - probably up north. I digress, deliciously. (I'm enjoying this.)
I also remember reading that Florence Nightingale never threw away a piece of paper. Her grocery lists have emerged. I love grocery lists! Speaking of grocery lists, the science fiction writer, Walter Miller (1923-1996), in his wonderful novel, A Canticle for Leibowitz (copyright 1959, published 1960) describes the grocery list of Saint Leibowitz, canonized after a nuclear holocaust has left an abbey in the southwest American desert as a long-term survivor (well, the occupants, of course, but the abbey is the ongoing, "permanent" character in the book). The list, discovered later outside what must have been a fall-out shelter, becomes the focus of illuminated manuscripts painstakingly created by later generations of monks and comprises a grocery list: dill pickles, pastrami and other snack food.
I'm being warned that the battery is low. I think I'll go on tomorrow about packratism and its side effects, good or ill There's another baseball game this afternoon and I have to recharge me for that. Anon, anon.