The very idea of a guy drinking whiskey and looking out on his front lawn where he has trotted out all the furniture of his former life for a sort of crazy man's yard sale, gets my writing blood up.
So much so that I've shared the origin of the idea with many of my writer students across the years. It is inevitable the best students will wander into my office, sit down underneath Albert Einstein, and want to talk about writing. Often, they are discouraged. College can be discouraging to writers. It is full of criticism and -- boy, I hate to say this -- literature they often find remote, and the pleasure they feel in putting words together becomes more mathematical than joyful.
Often they are searching for themselves at the same time they are searching for clues to a writing life. Tough in spades.
About half the time, the conversation starts with a question. "Do you know anything about Kerouac?" Or, "I just started Kerouac..." which is also a question without a question mark. Or, "Do you have On the Road?"
I've gone through a half-dozen copies of On the Road. For some reason I never get them back despite the warning my father always gave me when he loaned a tool: "Son, don't forget where you got that."
I usually warn them, too, about how Kerouac died. They nod, but they don't listen. They're young.
Then I try to turn them on to Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer is out on loan...) or Clyde Edgerton (Rainey, for those about to embark on marriage...). And always I tell them about Raymond Carver. When I do, I tell them about the man drinking whiskey with all his possessions on the front lawn.
They look at me like maybe I've finally gone around the bend.
Now they have the opportunity to see the story. Will Ferrell stars in a new film titled Everything Must Go, which is based on the Carver story "Why Don't You Dance?". Perhaps the film will lead them to Carver, then to the collection "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love." I hope so.
I ordered copies just in case.