Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The main character in "Main Currents of American Thought" is a self-employed writer of radio plays who, we find out at the end, is twenty-five years old. That he is twenty-five comes as a shock, given the responsibilities he has taken on.

One of my favorite passages in "Main Currents" occurs when he sits down to look at his finances, how he relates them to the shows he writes for and what they pay.

"Eighty dollars rent. The roof over his head equalled two Ronnie Cook's and His Friends. Five thousand words for rent."

At first I thought this was how a young person explored the world -- associatively. But then I wasn't so sure. What I like about Shaw's story is that it reminds us of those who had to grow up quickly during the Great Depression.

Is the main character's association a link to his youth or the result of not having had one? Could it be both? Is that an amplifier of associative thinking -- having grown up too quickly?

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