Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Cormac McCarthy Ices His Olivetti

Five million words, 50 years.

Those are the raw numbers describing the writing output facilitated by one particular portable Olivetti Lettera 32 manual typewriter, sold at a Knoxville, Tenn., pawnshop about 45 years ago.

Revered fiction writer Cormac McCarthy is the Pulitzer-winning author who made that purchase. Together, he and that remarkably reliable machine have conspired to create some of the most impressive works of the contemporary era, including "Blood Meridian," "The Crossing" and "All the Pretty Horses."

Two of his novels have been turned into movies - last year's Coen Brothers-directed, Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men, and the just-released The Road.

McCarthy continues to churn out books, stories, screenplays, plays, letters and other pieces of writing, using a newer Olivetti, also manual.

But his old Olivetti is headed for an overdue retirement: The machine is expected to bring at least $15,000 when it's auctioned this Friday. McCarthy is donating the proceeds to the nonprofit Santa Fe Institute, an interdisciplinary scientific research organization.

"“It has never been serviced or cleaned other than blowing out the dust with a service station hose," McCarthy wrote in the letter of authentication that will go to the Olivetti's buyer, according to The New York Times. "I have typed on this typewriter every book I have written including three not published."

For the rest of the story, see today's Times piece, written by Patricia Cohen.

Click here for details on the Christie's auction.

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