Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Typewriter for Sale, One Careful User ...

It has never been serviced or cleaned other than blowing out the dust with a service station hose. ... I have typed on this typewriter every book I have written including three not published. Including all drafts and correspondence I would put this at about five million words over a period of 50 years.
I don't think I can better Patricia Cohen's headline in The New York Times - No Country for Old Typewriters. Yes, this is Cormac McCarthy's machine we're talking about, a :
portable Olivetti manual typewriter he bought in a Knoxville, Tenn., pawnshop around 1963 for $50
on which he has written, among much else :
more than a dozen novels, several screenplays, two plays, two short stories, countless drafts, letters.
It's now being auctioned off after McCarthy's friend and colleague John Miller offered to replace the aging machine. The proceeds will go the Santa Fe institute which both work for.

The replacement McCarthy selected is ... a used portable Olivetti which cost around $11.

There's a lot to admire in the simplicity of that, I think.

5 comments:

composer said...

That thing is portable?! :P

-Jen

Jordan said...

I'll bet the least faded key is the apostrophe.

bibliobibuli said...

haha. or maybe he has a problem with that key and that's why he doesn't use it much? that would solve the mystery.

Jordan said...

Yes! Haha you could be right. Maybe that key got stuck years ago and he stopped using it altogether. The first thing he typed afterwards was 'Note to self: apostrophe doesnt work. Dont bother with it. Cant be arsed to get it fixed. Ill do that after Im rich and famous.'

BorneoExpatWriter said...

All of my short stories from Lovers and Strangers Revisited and narratives from Tropical Affairs and several unpublished novels were done on portable typewriters, draft after draft.

Seeing this made me nostalagic. I hated squeezing in those corrections or retyping whole pages, and was so glad when I got my first computer!

But a couple of times, even after retying them all onto the computer, I would retype the whole thing over again to force myself to reconsider every single word, every phrase.

I do not miss those portable typewriters, but I still got one as backup. But think of all those great books written before the typewriter, draft after draft...

I still write the first few drafts of fiction long hand. Nonfiction and essays straight to the computer.

Whatever works, so long as it does work...