Time travel is one of my favorite things to think about. I like to think about Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder and how everything in history, even a butterfly, can change the world with its existence. But I also like to think that time travel is actually part of our everyday lives. For example, when I fly home from New York, I leave at eight in the morning, fly for about six hours, and somehow it’s only noon when I arrive. Tell me that’s not time travel! Also, two weeks ago, I was walking with Laura to her home in Greenpoint very late at night or very early in the morning (bakers were baking and the streets smelled like donuts, so I’m guessing morning), and the whole town, with the church steeple and the signs all in Polish, felt like a foreign country. Laura confirmed my belief that we were no longer in Brooklyn but had in fact transported to Poland in the ’70s.
Another form of time travel happens every time I read. Right now I’m reading Vivir para contarla (Living to Tell the Tale), the first of Gabito’s autobiographies (there will be 3). He is rather old now—he’ll turn 82 next month–and what strikes me so much about his early years is what a different world he lived in. He and his friends as young men would sit around café tables in Barranquilla and Bogotá with famous poets and read and write and talk about reading and writing (which seems as integral a part of being a writer as the actual writing) through the night. Though he mentions the pittance he was paid for his work as a journalist, at least he could find work as a journalist, enough to (barely) support himself. Anyway, I love the book and the world he creates. His work is among my favorites because of his legendary world of Macondo, the inspiration for which he mentions in the book came from a ghost banana plantation. He also mentions how often he re-read Faulkner, so he could dip into the realm of Yoknapatawpha county. Though I don’t love so-called Armchair Travel books, because they just make me want to actually travel, I do love time traveling in books like these.
Favorite quote from the book, so far:
“Each thing, just by looking at it, aroused in me an irresistible longing to write so I would not die. I had suffered this on other occasions, but only on that morning did I recognize it as a crisis of inspiration, that word, abominable but so real, that demolishes everything in its path in order to reach its ashes in time.”