Dystopia and the Fountain Pen

I am reading Margaret Atwood's recent novel, "The Year of the Flood," perhaps a follow up her to earlier novel, "Oryx and Crake" or perhaps not.  I haven't finished it yet.

And whilst reading "The Year of the Flood", slowly and betwist and between drawing, painting and listening, what should appear on NPR's Fresh Air and then the New York Times book review podcast but interviews with Tom Perrotta about his newest book, "Leftovers."  Yes, another dystopic novel, this one about the rapture.

What have these books and fountain pens have in common?

Not much unless you are me.

Conklin, F nib
This morning I bought another fountain pen.  What?  Yes, I bought another pen.  This time a vintage Conklin.  I hemmed and hawed.  I asked the seller many questions.  I questioned my sanity about buying another pen.  Yet just three days ago I contemplated and almost bought another Pelikan to live with my flock.  I resisted and then today saw the pen had sold.  I sighed with relief.

But still I bought the Conklin.

It is something about getting old(er) and living to the max that perhaps is the connective tissue or the way my mind comingles the dystopic novels I read, and occasionally attempt to write and a fountain pen.

They, the pens, are often buried treasures in people's lives, occasionally rising to the surface from a drawer, or cupboard and presented to a younger generation with stories of "when I was young," or "back then," or any number of preambles to a fountain pen story.

Novels are also buried treasures from the author's imagination, either lifting us up, or drowning us in their fantasy of yesterdays and potential tomorrows.  Novels came in all sorts of colours, shades, lengths, with few or many words and provide us with a literary framework of life--not necessarily our life, but life itself.

Atwood is a good writer.  Non-readers may recognize her name if they saw the film, "The Handmaiden's Tale," based on her novel. 

"The Year of the Flood" is very much about digging up the past and living in the future.  Buying a vintage pen is not my oft decision.  I am afeared of the levers on many oldies; cautious about their delicacy; hard on pens like I am on life.  In fact, I sold about a dozen or more vintage pens just a few years ago--real collectibles, but unused, unloved.

But with the world spinning out of control, nearly as dangerously close to Atwood's vision in at least three of her books, I am feeling attached to the past and yearning for a revisionist version of Utopian dreams.  Just days ago we had an earthquake; the New York subways and the bus lines will be closed tomorrow at noon; I was caught in an ice storm just a week ago, in summer; and my body is slowly falling into ruin.

One more pen, more or less, more to be accurate, in the wider scheme may add a momentary pleasure otherwise lost if I resisted.   And as Whole Earth Catalogue said when they closed their doors, and Steve Jobs said at the Stanford commencement in 2005, "Stay hungry, stay foolish."

And I just had a flashback to Edith Wharton and the pen she used in Taos, a pen I coveted and now next week will own.

Edith Wharton's pen, Mabel Dodge House, Taos, New Mexico

Although, I am unfamiliar with Perrotta's work, I am tempted to get his book and perhaps another fountain pen.

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