TypeTown #24: "What I enjoy about writing is the time it takes."
🇪🇸 Javier Marías, Helen Gurley Brown, La Paz sidewalks, Columbo, and more...
Hola y bienvenidos todos.
Today’s TypeTown features two stories from the Spanish-speaking world, starting first with the death earlier this month of Javier Marías.
“What I enjoy about writing is the time it takes.”
During a long and successful career, Marías resolutely refused to abandon his Olympia Carrera Deluxe typewriter.
Indeed, he was so committed that he had a spare installed in his country retreat 230km from his Madrid base.
“Sometimes I put my head in my hands, conscious as I am that every page has been patiently written and re-written, always on paper and typewriter, with corrections done by hand and then typed out again.”
There was plenty to show for his efforts.
His 15 novels amassed almost nine million sales and were translated into 46 languages.
Chief among them were A Heart So White and Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me, both of which received international recognition.
He was also known across Spain for his weekly column in El Pais, which ran for the best part of 20 years and which he originally filed by faxing his typewritten work.
When the expectation came that his columns were submitted electronically, Marías showed undeniable style in his response.
Sticking with his typewriter, he tapped out each column as he always had.
Then, instead of reaching for the fax machine, he photographed his work and submitted the image by WhatsApp.
An extraordinary TypeTown hero.
“Posterity is a concept of the past… (Nowadays)… Everything ages at excessive speed. How many writers, as soon as they die, immediately pass into oblivion.”
Not this one.
WATCH» The World Is Never Just Politics: A Conversation with Javier Marías - Los Angeles Review of Books
READ» Spanish literary great Javier Marías dies at 70 - El Pais
READ» Javier Marías, The Art of Fiction No. 190 - The Paris Review
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Remembering Helen Gurley Brown
This year would have marked the 100th birthday of Helen Gurley Brown, a true American trailblazer, author of Sex and the Single Girl, and editor of Cosmopolitan for 32 years.
“There is no way to succeed and have the lovely spoils — money, recognition, deep satisfaction in your work — except to put in the hours, do the drudgery. If you give, you get. If you work hard, the hard work rewards you.”
A consistent letter writer throughout her life, she started using a typewriter early in her childhood. One of her notes even generated a response from then-US President Franklin Roosevelt in 1937 when her sister, Mary, fell ill with polio.
And in 2007, she was still diligently writing on a Royal 990 (with a spare in a room next to her office). She’d previously used a LC Smith Superspeed.
“Beauty can’t amuse you, but brainwork — reading, writing, thinking — can.”
She wasn’t one to suffer fools gladly.
“Never fail to know that if you are doing all the talking, you are boring somebody.”
Message understood, Helen. Over and out.
WATCH» Helen Gurley Brown - 2009 Full-Length Documentary Film - McConnellHauser
READ» Who Owns Helen Gurley Brown’s Legacy? - The New York Times
READ» Helen Gurley Brown: Cosmo editor’s quest for glamour, sex and power - The Guardian
“I take care of everything…”
On a busy intersection in La Paz, Bolivia, Rogelio Condori Torrez clacks away on his Brother Deluxe 1350.
It is June 2022, but in this corner of Latin America the typewriter holds firm.
“I take care of everything related to national tax forms and every now and then I do love letters.”
Elsewhere he has an office, computer, internet… but he chooses not to use it.
“Typewriters are easier to use, and they are fast. You load the paper and away you go.”
Watch the full film below 👇
Worth pausing the platen
📬 With no money in the pandemic, young man makes money selling typewriters - TAB UOL Brazil (translated)
📬 Indian man collects hundreds of typewriters - Reuters
And finally… typewriters in the wild
In the strikingly-shot very first scene of Columbo…
In this 1960s image of Russian aviation….
And in this image from season 11, episode 3 of The Simpsons…
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TypeTown is a fortnightly celebration of the typewriter’s place in modern (and not so modern) culture.