In praise of late bloomers
Young doomed geniuses get all the attention, says Timothy Egan in the N.Y. Times, but it's the late-in-life achievers that truly inspire
"I used to be a connoisseur of stories about young, doomed geniuses," says Timothy Egan at The New York Times, but the "doomed youth parables" of the F. Scott Fitgeralds and Vincent van Goghs who die "early, broke and crushed," no longer move me. "I now look to the late bloomer, somebody who kicks around in frustration and misdirection for decades before going on a brilliant late-innings streak." Take one of our greatest filmmakers: After directing his first movie at age 62, Clint Eastwood, now 80, is the "king of geriatric film genius"; and as much as you might love John Huston's early work, such as The Maltese Falcon and The Treasure of Sierra Madre, you'll be blown away by "the last film of his life, an adaptation of the James Joyce story The Dead." It makes you wonder, when does human creativity peak? Here, an excerpt:
"Writers are a tough call. For every J.D. Salinger, who published The Catcher in the Rye when he was 32, there is a Mark Twain, who brought out The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn at 49. Huck Finn, Hemingway said, is the foundation for all modern American fiction, and I agree. ...
My favorite septuagenarian inspiration is Norman Maclean, who published the most beautiful, word-perfect novel of the American West, A River Runs Through It, when he was 74. And then he had a second book in him, Young Men and Fire, published after his death at 87. Old, seemingly doomed, and brilliant — a role model for all second-act aces."