Maxwell’s So Long, See You Tomorrow

Those of us without strong family ties or inspiration look for wisdom or guidance from wherever we can find it. And those who read usually find escape or motivation from texts–and that would be a success. I mean I have been writing about failure on this site quite a bit but finding a text or manuscript that motivates and kick starts our own projects can be the only success perhaps to speak of that is pure and true. And Maxwell’s So Long, See You Tomorrow has been one of those books for me. What a gem of a book. I find myself returning to it again and again for inspiration and guidance. But not just as a writer.

Not just in writing but in memory and strength in facing the past. And this is where I will be cheesy and cliche’d and state that this text is a friend. And I have only seen interviews with Maxwell–his reflections on Salinger are also very interesting to me– and I have read few of his books but I remember the day I read the book in Oregon, for Marjorie Sandor’s novella course, I thought–I want to write a book like that. I want to have visions of the past like that.

And the prose style so clear and simple and yet speculative and uncertain of the truth and of the reality of the past. So dream-like and airy. Maxwell’s work is so amazing and his death was such a loss to the literary world.

And I taught the book a term ago in a novels course and of course the students hated it. They thought it was good literature but not a good read–as one of my students put it. I always hated that phrase–it’s a good read. Like a page turner you buy at the airport that is the literary equivalent of a burger shake and fries. The fast food version of a book–just to pass the time. A book you take someting from in a short term manner instead of a meaning that grows and mul;itplies as you grow. But I do feel I am learning from this book and my understanding of it. This book I return to and return to.

And maybe if I had an Abuelito like Maxwell who had coffee with me, or listened to me or wanted to call me up and ask me about my life, I hope it would have Maxwell’s head and perspective–or at least the literary face I see when I return to the book.

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john paul jaramillo

John Paul Jaramillo’s debut story collection The House of Order was named a 2013 Int’l Latino Book Award Finalist, and his most recent work Little Mocos is now available from Twelve Winters Press. In 2013 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature listed Jaramillo as one of its Top 10 New Latino Authors to Watch and Read. He is currently a professor of composition and literature at Lincoln Land College-Springfield, Illinois.

2 thoughts on “Maxwell’s So Long, See You Tomorrow”

  1. Some nights I get online to blog and as part of my process, I read yours first and then I see that you have written what I was thinking, only better. I wasn’t thinking of Maxwell tonight, but I am thinking of this book I am reading that is the equivalent to a happy meal without the toy. I was sort of duped into reading it because it has a pit bull in it and I love pit bulls. It’s horribly written and I have to read it because my friend will soon ask me how I liked it and I want to be able to fully articulate every reason it sucks.

    But then, one of the students who works in our Center says he reads bad writing so that he can know more about what makes good writing good. I like that, especially coming from a writer as young as he is.

    I’m gonna go write about all this now. Bye bye.

  2. I guess I’m cheesy, but I think art does have the potential to befriend us and wake us up to new possibilities–what the best of relationships do.

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