Last night I saw this documentary about a guy who starts reading a book as a young man and then remembers it when he’s older and tries to find it but learns it’s out of print. This sends him on a two year cross country journey to find out what happened to the author and why it went out of print. I don’t consider myself a literary novel buff, which is what the movie is about, but I am a book lover. So it was fascinating to see this guy meet with one dead end after another until he was almost ready to give up, and then find the hutzpah to start again and again until the road led somewhere. Along the way he meets all these reviewers and editors, even the freelance cover artist, who help him piece together the life of the book. The movie is an inspiration for book producers and readers, book lovers everywhere. I found it (where else?) in my library movie section. When you have a book that you can’t find anywhere, remember that it has a story and you yourself have a part in ascribing that story meaning, by virtue of your interest. (That is of course if the book is obscure enough that it’s hard to find anywhere, is out of print, and if the author is a one hit wonder.)
The movie also reminded me that authors often teeter on this tightrope of narcissism and despair, between a love affair with their writing and their audience, and the knowledge that in the big picture like one person may care in thirty years and it’s uncertain whether they’ll make ends meet in the present. That tightrope fuels creative energy in some and insanity and suicide in others—and the world gets to watch it all unfold.