As the HML fundraising drive chugs along (more information and donation rewards can be found HERE) we’d like to talk about how Miller’s writing connects with people from all over the world.
The following anecdote, told by Magnus, is a great example. It’s about the time Victor Villaseñor, the best-selling Mexican/American author, walked into the Library, articulated his love for Miller, and promptly segued into a real-time, off-the-cuff piece of compelling performance art — the kind of instantaneous magic that the Library seems to effortlessly elicit.
Take it away, Magnus!
“It’s pretty common for complete strangers to walk into the Library and tell me how much Miller influenced them.
“I mean, I’ve had people say that reading “Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch” changed their lives and made them move 3,000 miles to Big Sur. People say reading Miller made them want to be a writer, or quit their job, or contributed to some major life decision. He just seems to reach people on a deeper, almost metaphysical level.
“One casual encounter really sticks out in my mind. The visitor’s name was Victor Villasenor. He’s an an acclaimed Mexican-American writer, best known for the New York Times bestseller novel “Rain of Gold,” which is this incredible story of his parents’ escape from Mexico to the US during the Mexican Revolution.
“He came into the Library one day and proceeded to tell his story. He crossed the border from Mexico when he was about 19 and spoke no English. Soon after he picked up a copy of Tropic of Capricorn, and along with his trusty English/Spanish dictionary, taught himself English.
“So he’s in the Library – and there are about eight or so other customers in the store at the time – and he suddenly whips out ‘Capricorn,’ and starts reading it aloud at random in this deep, booming, Mexican-accented voice. It was a spell-binding performance, thanks in no small part to his occasional commentary. He’d pause after a passage and say, ‘This is what Miller is all about! Every sentence in this book has a life of it’s own!!’
“Every passage seemed to have some resonance with the moment, and there was a deep, mystical passion in his recitation and commentary; it was almost as if he himself was possessed…like some mysterious monk extracting wisdom from ancient scriptures.
“Anyway, as you can imagine, it was an experience of extraordinary serendipity….”