To Read Books Written by the Deceased

Recently I’ve somehow ended up reading books written by people that are dead.  Normally I don’t pay much attention to if the author is dead or alive, but after receiving The Opposite of Loneliness in my Easter basket, I’ve started to notice if the author is still alive.  

The Opposite of Loneliness is a collection of essays written by Marina Keegan, a Yale graduate who was killed in a car accident three days after her graduation.  I started reading her book the day that I got it and fell in love with it.  The only thing that kept me from finishing the book that night was knowing that there would never be anything else written by Marina Keegan.  This book was the only piece of writing that I would be able to read by her.  

It got me thinking: Should we read books written by people who are dead differently than those whose authors are alive? Should I have stopped reading The Opposite of Loneliness simply because I wanted to savor the only writings that I would read from her? Or should I have just read the whole book in one sitting? 

How should we read books written by those who are dead?

As I thought about this, I realized that the majority of books that I’ve read have been written by people who are buried.  People who won’t write ever again.  Shakespeare, Ken Kesey, and George Orwell are just a few awesome authors who are no longer with us. I’ve read books by those three men without even thinking of if they were dead or not.  Not thinking that there would be no new writing from them. I simply read their books without a second thought. 

Why were Marina Keegan’s essays different? Why did I freeze before I continued reading? 

I have come to the conclusion that I stopped because she was so young.  There should have been more writings from her.  This should not have been her only published work. She was not expected to die.  

That was why I couldn’t keep reading.  I couldn’t keep reading because with every page turn, I was confronted by the shortness and harness of life.  Every page turn, I stood face to face with some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read, and it was written by someone who shouldn’t be dead. 

I couldn’t keep reading because that could be me.  That could be any of us.  

We can all be forced to stop writing, stop dancing, stop singing, stop creating at any moment.  

And as scary as that is, it’s also a challenge.  

What do we make with our time we have to create? 

“And I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short” -Marina Keegan 

to share my manifest (of the mismatched puzzle pieces)

I wrote this in English earlier this year.

The Manifesto of the Amalgamation of Mismatched Puzzle Pieces

Article I, written by the Puzzle Piece from the “Skeleton Floor Puzzle”:

  1. The purpose of Article I is to define the Amalgamation of Mismatched Puzzle Pieces which was founded in the 7th month of the 997th year of the second millennium.
  2. The definition of amalgam, as taken from the Merriam Webster Dictionary, is a combination or mixture of different things.
  3. The definition of puzzle, as taken from the Merriam Webster Dictionary, is something hard to understand or explain.
  4. The definition of the Amalgamation of Mismatched Puzzle Pieces, as adopted by the Mismatched Puzzle Pieces, is a group of puzzle pieces that have been exiled, have simply gone astray, or have chosen to leave their respective puzzles.  Realizing that they could neither stand alone nor return to their former puzzles, the mismatched puzzle pieces joined together to attempt to make something functional.

Article II, written by the Puzzle Piece from “US Capitol Building 3D Puzzle”

  1. All pieces must pledge loyalty to the Amalgamation of Mismatched Puzzle Pieces.

Article III, written by the Puzzle Piece from “Ravensburger Yosemite Valley- 1000 Piece Puzzle”

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The Puzzle Pieces that are part of the Amalgamation of Mismatched puzzle pieces all pledge to not dwell on the negative aspects of this life.  They will accept that they no longer are part of the group that they were “designed” to be in.  They will turn the seemingly negative separation into something positive.  They will be phoenixes that, with the help of those around them, will come together to make something new. The new creation may not be what the pieces feel like they were made for, and, as a Puzzle Piece that has experienced this feeling as well, I can say that this feeling is temporary and is common among all of the pieces. When we look to the earth, we realize that this separation of the similar and the mixture of the different is not something that we need to fear.  If the clouds  would have refused to join the sky simply because the sky was not a cloud, we have a world that does not get to experience the beauty of white clouds contrasted on a blue sky.  Or if the mountains said to the earth, “You are not like us.  We cannot associate.”  Luckily, neither of these things has actually occurred.  And neither of those things will happen to the Amalgamation of Mismatched Puzzle Pieces.

Article IV, written by the Puzzle Piece from “WWII Poster Collage Jigsaw Puzzle

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Article V, written by the Amalgamation of Mismatched Puzzle Pieces

If one returns to Article I, Section D, one would find the mission of the Amalgamation of Mismatched Puzzle Pieces.  The Amalgamation would like to conclude its manifesto by reporting the success of the mission outlined in the mentioned passage.  The Amalgamation has reached a point in its life that no longer are individual pieces in mourning of their former lives, no longer are they attempting to fix into the categories that the factory workers sorted them into at the factory.  We are realizing that it is truly up to ourselves to define who we are.

Signed:

The Amalgamation of Mismatched Puzzle Pieces

I did all artwork in The Manifesto of the Amalgamation Mismatched Puzzle Pieces.  All puzzles references are real puzzles and can be purchased on Amazon.com.