Yesterday I finished the book My Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, and with that last shutting of the paperback I finished the trilogy of the books that I call the most influential I have ever read.
With some books or series or movies or anything of the sort – say Harry Potter – the reader will reluctantly put the book down for the last time, after having read the entire available exploits of the family of characters and situations located therein, and think with nostalgia about the excitement they had knowing that there were pages left to turn and new roads to discover in that particular contained fantasy world. There was something like that with putting Quinn’s third adventure of the mind and spirit on the table, but it was not quite the same selfish yearning to melt away into a simulacrum of escape. Instead I thought of how deeply the concepts therein had affected my character and my views about humanity, society, and my place in the global system. The answers themselves are not in Ishmael, The Story of B, or My Ishmael, but the way to find answers is, and that is what makes the books so unique and powerful, applicable to anyone who chances upon them with the nagging thought that we are all dead or dying, or at least that you are. I am thankful to my 12th grade government teacher for making Ishmael a part of of our required reading for the class, because I’d have almost never heard of it otherwise.
There are those moments that are so full of everything – senses, emotion, and experience – that they become ingrained in your head as a part of your personal golden legendarium. One of those moments for me was while reading Ishmael as a senior in high school. My family was in Birmingham, visiting my grandparents and mother’s relatives for some holiday function, probably Thanksgiving. I had been reading the book on the car ride from Gadsden, and all I could think about in my grandfather’s house was the continuing of the book, arriving at more real answers for myself. On the car ride home, I got to read the climax of the book, which was in itself a revelation to me. To many, that revelation is nothing new, but maybe they aren’t understanding it fully well.
Whilst sitting on the couch and thinking about this state of affairs, I reminded myself that I am participating in National Novel Writing Month 2007. A new spark and a new road open before me. Writing 50,000 words in one month is going to be damn hard, especially between building up my Executive Board team for 2008 and working at bars, but it’s one of those things that I should do before I leave this plane. Now I just need to get fired up for plot and character development.