Tuesday, August 5, 2008

UT Austin

Right now I am in the Ransom Center of the UT Austin library, trying to look at some manuscripts of Bernard Malamud and letters from John Steinbeck. It's really quite a serious operation. I had to lock my bag up and watch a video on how to care for the materials. I learned what a book snake is, and that's always exciting.

I requested (out of the boxes and boxes of materials available) the letters that Steinbeck wrote every day to his publisher while he wrote East of Eden, you know, the ones he put in that big wooden box that I want to have recreated. I thought that would be cool since I already thought that was pretty interesting at the Steinbeck Center. For Malamud I asked for drafts of his short story "The Apprentice." There's so much more to see but I only have a short amount of time. You have to fill out a pretty detailed calling card and then they have to retrieve the stuff for you. I'm not allowed to have a purse, camera, phone, etc.

Downstairs is the Gutenberg Bible and also the first photograph ever taken. There are millions of books and manuscripts kept here, including the original copy of James Joyce's Ulysses. I asked for that but they said it's restricted. I think that's false advertising, you know? I guess I can't complain too much.

Tomorrow I'm going to visit O. Henry's house (it's closed today) and see what's going on there. Today we met Joel Johnson for lunch! Awesome! We went to The Shady Grove and Joel gave us the low down on Austin. Hopefully we're going to see some bats fly from under the Congress bridge and then listen to some live music. I just found out that Marianne should be driving down from Waco tomorrow and that's really really exciting. I like Austin a lot, except for the fact that you kind of need a car to get around. I'll fill you in on more after I get to see the letters and essays and when I've seen more of this city "where cowboy meets hippie."

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