My Little Literary Life in Three Authors

My Little Literary Life in Three Authors
Gabriel García Márquez

There was once a beautiful enchantress who traversed the rough terrain of Long Island to come to New York City. She claimed a co-op tower as her kingdom, and resolved to weave her life within the postcard skyline. After many years of uninterrupted sorcery, the enchantress gave birth to a girl with a full head of rough hair. The enchantress and her husband wrapped the newborn in her sister’s clothes and brought her back to the tower. There she crawled and reigned imperviously, swaddled as she was in brick, ivy, family, and mortar. But as the years shifted and the little girl’s hair grew long, the fairytale became a curse. For, despite the rapidity and prowess of her own mother’s incantations, the child could not speak a word.

Specialists peered at the child and prodded her thin chest with chilled stethoscopes. The very little girl accrued a very long list of diagnoses. But the enchantress knew the cure. As a child the mother had also been brought to doctors, concerned because she spoke of and to her literary friends as if they had dived headfirst from their hardcovers into her budding reality. The enchantress explained that these maladies, these weaknesses, were the truest strengths, if one was brave enough to heel them. And after years of silence, perhaps because of faith, or science, or fate, or magic, or love, the little girl spoke her first word.

Little girls grow up. But even as the enchantress’ daughter fled from her mother in the darkest corners of the tower, conjuring her own fledgling magic in journals and scrawled angst across her bedroom door, she remembered the power of her mother’s words. And although the daughter wore her adolescence like a warning, still her mother sang to her from the enchanted hallway of the castle in the form of novels with stiff spines and fresh reams of blank canvas. Although the impenetrable silence of time had come between them, the daughter always knew that when she wrote it was for her mother, her mother who had taught her love, who had always known her fate as a storyteller, and who had waited, patiently, as she found the strength to speak.

J.D Salinger

If you really want to hear about it, you’ll probably want to know about extracurriculars and schoolwork and all that phony stuff we have to pretend is fascinating. But I’m assuming you really want to know me, which of course you can’t, because honestly how can you ever really know a person? So here goes nothing: I was thirteen and doing the ole’ bar mitzvah circuit, which is to say services plus video montages plus filet mignon. If I sound a bit unenthused it’s because I was unenthused, little rebellious kid that I was, and I would find a quiet spot in the bathroom of Temple Emanu-El and I would read. I would read anything. I would read through the speech, through the slow dance, heck I would’ve read straight through my own bat mitzvah if I hadn’t been so gosh darned occupied what with reciting the Talmud. I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time hunched under a heavy pink tablecloth. And even though I bet I looked funny, I thought I was swell, just swell, and turning out pretty much alright. It’s a silly feeling, sort of hard to explain, but for those few hours I knew that I was in a place my friends just didn’t understand, in my own world where nothing mattered but the words, the beautiful words, the life changing words that made it all worthwhile. And I think I’ll be happy if someday some little kid in Paris, Africa, or Wyoming is hiding from his family and his friends and traveling to my world, reading my words and knowing that he’s not alone, that it’s all going to be ok. Does that make sense to you?

David Foster Wallace

So when I wrote this essay it seemed appropriate to channel my favorite authors.{C}[1]{C} I don’t want to sound pretentious, or over-educated, or maybe I do, but what I do know for sure is that every word I wrote and every word I will ever write is capital T True, and capital M Me, and who I am and what I’ve written have been so intertwined for so long that I couldn’t tell you the difference. All I know is that there’s speaking{C}[2]{C} and there’s writing and then there’s that place where you’re dreaming in stories, jotting in journals, and faced with the inescapable truth that it’s only when you’re creating another world that you feel truly connected and alive, feeding your humanity and soul in words, words, words. I’ve always been a writer, before I could speak, before I could learn, before I could even understand. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love to do it; if I said I didn’t worship the writer and his craft in all his shameless neuroses and gleaming ambition…who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space through images juxtaposed{C}{cke_protected_1}[3]{C}{cke_protected_2}. But I guess I can’t hide behind my old books and my fabled authors anymore. I guess this is when my story really begins; it’s going to be scary, being an adult, writing in my own voice, but then again— I think I’m ready to start.

[1] Not to say these are all my favorite authors. See also Austen, Jane; Diaz, Junot; Chang, Eileen; Davis, Lydia; Hemingway, Ernest.

[2] Which, by the way, I couldn’t do until I was pushing four; after visiting countless physicians I was declared dumb and mute, and in a state of serious rage at my snubbed intelligence, I proceeded to speak as if I had been doing it all along, if only to prove those idiots wrong.

{C}{cke_protected_3}[3]{C}{cke_protected_4} This is a quote from Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. This is how a generation ought to be defined and how poetry ought to be written.

Amy Zimmerman
Age 17, Grade 12,
Trinity School
Silver Key

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