“I have had much happiness, and expect more. I never won it by seeking it. Long ago, when I loved and married Maja, I thought (just like a human being!) that I was engaged in the pursuit of happiness. Neither she nor I ever found it until we stopped searching; until we learned that love is no more to be possessed than sunshine and that the sun shines when it will. When she survived the difficult birth of Elmaja, we were richly happy, I remember. If one must hunt a reason for happiness, I say it was because we were living to the full extent of our natures: we had work, our child, our companionship; the sun was high. After I lost her at the birth of our son, my next happiness came a year later, when I was playing the “Emperor” concerto with the Old City orchestra, and found that for the first time I knew what to do with that incredible octave passage – you remember it: the rolling storm diminishes and dies away without a climax, where anyone but Beethoven would have written crescendo. I understood then (I think I understood) why he did not. My hands conveyed my understanding, and I was happy, no longer enslaved by a backward-looking grief but living as best I could– not a bad best...And I think, with all respect to one of the most vital of human documents, that the pursuit of happiness is an occupation of fools.”
This was written for me, as hard as that is to believe, and I have proof: it’s under the March 10th section of the book. My birthday. Edgar Pangborn was a Quaker – another coincidence that speaks directly to me. More proof: the masterful Peter S. Beagle, whom I spoke to a few years ago, wrote an afterword – perhaps better described as a love letter to an adored author– and he referenced only being able to find a copy of the author’s books at the Santa Cruz Public Library, linking it again into my own life. This paragraph, and so many others, have given me a little rock to cling to in my tempest-ridden moods.
A Mirror of Observers is about a Martian protecting the people of earth – but it is hardly a story about Mars, but so much more as a book. Its characters remind me of Betty’s characters, especially the spunky little girl Sharon Brand. Like Betty’s precious little story, this story would have never published today, either. That’s another comfort, since I keep getting turned down by agents...
Writers should not just give readers what they want; they should give them what they deeply need. The words should reach across space and time and cradle the reader, giving them a safe haven against the world they feel alone in. What an absolutely amazing book.