Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Mom, Henry Miller Was One Wacky Guy

Today is Henry Miller's birthday. In his honor, I am reposting a story about how a mother and daughter spent a perfect afternoon at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur, California during a memorable road trip.

“Look Eloise, is this not the most gorgeous, undeveloped, uncrowded stretch of road you have ever seen in your life?”
“It’s great Mom. How long until we get to our hotel?”
“Not too long, but first I want to stop at the Henry Miller Library.”
[Silence from the back seat.]
Don’t worry, it’s not a real library. It’s more like a Henry Miller experience. He was a really interesting writer who lived around here and a friend of his turned his house into a memorial to Henry Miller except he didn’t like memorials so it’s kind of a cultural happening. You can get a cup of tea and we don’t have to stay too long.

As it turned out, we stayed all afternoon. Eloise played ping pong in the garden with anyone who found it hard to tell a little girl “no”. We chatted with fellow travellers. Eloise met a teacher from New York and they discussed schools. I read “Travels with Charley”. We looked at books, the Paris and Beat Generation memorabilia, the crazy, larger-than-life crucifix made out of computer monitors. We sat in the sun and drank tea. On the way out, I asked Eloise what she thought of the whole thing. “Mom, Henry Miller was one wacky guy.” As we got back in the car, I imagined a much older Eloise, sitting in a literature class and holding forth on the Tropic of Cancer’s place in the American literary canon. Right then I made a wish that she would remember that once, when she was small, she spent a perfect afternoon hanging out with her old Mum at Miller’s anti-memorial memorial. I really hope she does remember.

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