Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Have you ever noticed?

One of my roomates from college is an author. A pretty well known author. An author of some pretty freaking weird books. I like his books a lot, and when a new one comes out, I buy it not only out of loyalty to someone I happen to like, but because it's bizarre how he incorporates things in his book that nobody outside of people that have either lived with him, or know him extremely well would ever note. But I do note them, in every book.

This weekend I just read Jeff Long's latest book, The Wall. It is about two old friends in our age group who reunite to climb El Capitan in Yosemite, recreating the big wall climb they did years ago when they founded the Anasazi route up El Cap. While I wouldn't say this book is autobiographical, so much of it contains bits and pieces of Jeff that it's been haunting me. I wonder just where some of this stuff came from.

When I first met him, he was a freshman and I was a sophmore in college in Boulder Co, where he still lives today. He was an interesting person, but very very different. I used to think he was haunted by a bad childhood that he didn't talk about, and maybe by some evil in his past that he just couldn't cope with. He wasn't depressed, per se, but he was so intense and so driven that it marked him as highly unusual at CU, the Italian retirement university for wayward hippies. But on the other hand, he was the epitome of Colorado, tall and broad and strong and very handsome in that rugged mountain man kind of way. When we shared a house, he was already the proud owner of two blown knees from rock climbing. He also soloed on El Cap when we were living together. Our living room was festered with ropes, carabeeners, and other climbing paraphrenalia. After college I lost track of him, but heard reports occasionally about his arrest in Nepal for smuggling a watch, and other facets of his life that have later appeared in his books.

That's what gets me. That he keeps putting stuff about his life, little hints or inside jokes or whatever into his novels. They're so not about him. The Year Zero is one of the most frightening apocolyptic tales you could ever imagine. It is a thriller of terrifying proportions, and yet there were parts of the 'old Jeff" in the book that made me smile. I've never had this experience with other authors that I personally know. Maybe it's because I lived in a house with him through some pretty turbulent times for both of us personally, and so I know him differently than I know other authors. Whatever, I think it's amazing that so many years later I still find the little pieces of the man I knew so long ago in his books.
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Blogger Belinda said...

Pretty high user ratings on Amazon for a couple of those, especially the "Deadlands" one, with 5 whole stars! I never heard of him, but now I want to check him out. Thanks!

7/3/06 4:33 AM  
Blogger Bethany said...

This is fascinating. I love that little pieces of him are dispersed in the book. It means he is still being true to himself, AND being successful. :-) Good for him!

7/3/06 10:40 AM  
Anonymous Chloe said...

OMG. Except for the moustache, that man is hot!
I suspect most fiction is made up of bits and pieces of the author's real life. I have some friends who are also friends of a bestselling novelist and when I read her books I'm always recognizing my friends in her characters.

7/3/06 4:50 PM  

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