Thursday, December 3, 2009

"As if Mount Rushmore was carved with a Swiss Army knife"

Remember typewriters? There is actually a working one about ten feet from where I am now sitting in the back room of Accent on Books. And yes, we still use it, which occasionally leads someone to stick their head into the back room and ask, "What's that strange noise?"

Cormac McCarthy uses one, too -- the same one for almost fifty years. And now that Olivetti Lettera 32 is being auctioned off by Christie's to benefit the Santa Fe Institute, a nonprofit organization with which McCarthy is associated. But fear not: this master of the spare, grim, hardscrabble novel isn't suddenly switching to some effete, newfangled laptop. Nope, he's managed to find an almost brand new portable Olivetti, similar to his old one.

In a note accompanying the typewriter being auctioned off -- typed on the machine itself -- McCarthy states it's "never been serviced or cleaned other than blowing out the dust with a service station hose." Yet, as the person handling the auction for McCarthy said, "When I grasped that some of the most complex, almost otherworldly fiction of the postwar era was composed on such a simple, functional, frail-looking machine, it conferred a sort of talismanic quality to Cormac's typewriter. It's as if Mount Rushmore was carved with a Swiss Army knife."

More here.

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