1.20.2010

I own your birthplaces, author types

Because I am so interested in you and your histories! Charles McGrath writes:
That we tend to fetishize writers’ residences is a little odd to begin with. By and large the same fuss doesn’t get made over places where artists have lived, and yet you could argue that an artist’s surroundings have more bearing on his work. But birthplaces themselves are an even odder subcategory, certainly less interesting, in general, than the houses where writers have actually worked.
This is one of those things I don't really get, as I'm not particularly interested in author's lives. I like my celebrities and heroes up on pedestals, thank you very much, and the more I know about their lives and habits and drug problems the less I respect their work.

That said, there is something weird about the fuss we make over birthplaces versus adult abodes of writers. Adult homes are where authors chose to be inspired, as opposed to where their parents decided to pop them out. Luckily, McGrath writes:
Nobody is born at home anymore, and who would want to make a literary pilgrimage to a hospital?

5 comments:

  1. Yeah, I would definitely be more interested in visiting the house where a book I love was authored than in visiting the house/hospital where an author I love was born.

    And y'all would have to haul butt to Japan to see where I was born, so it's really more convenient for most of you to just come see my home office here in the U.S....

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  2. Agreed. Still, it's fun to visit a place where someone famous was a child. All that future potential...

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  3. I agree that the birthplace thing is weird. Although, I am always very interested by lives of authors, perhaps as you are by celebrities. Knowing a bit of their history makes their stories come to life as you can pick out parts of them embedded in their work.

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  4. It is weird. One exception I know of, is Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' place, up in northern Florida, between Ocala and Gainesville, in Cross Creek.

    The home, where she wrote is now a national landmark and historic state park. She was born in Washington D.C. and moved to Florida at the age of 32, where she wrote. The much idolized Max Perkins was her editor.

    The house is quite nice. The park rangers have it set up as it was in the 1930's. She died in 1953. She wrote The Yearling (Pulitzer prize) and Cross Creek, of course, among other stories.

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  5. The more an author blogs or posts on twitter, the less I want to read their work. Authors should have some sort of mystery surrounding them, and seeing them all over facebook turns them into ordinary people. Once that happens, the last thing in the world I want to do is read their books.

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