25 Authors Who Wrote Great Books Before They Turned 25

Originally posted on Flavorwire:

Picture it: teenage Mary Shelley was on a vacation getaway, with her husband Percy and some of his rambunctious poet friends, like that rogue Lord Byron… and out of the group of legends, it’s Shelley herself who arguably published the greatest work of all at the ridiculous age of 20: Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, a book that has penetrated our human consciousness. In honor of Shelley’s birthday this month, here’s a list of 25 other writers who created heartbreakingly beautiful work before they could get a discount on a rental car or have their publishers demand an active Twitter account. If you’re 26, get on out of here. (However, interestingly enough, 26 seems to be a magic age for a lot of writers, starting with Thomas Pynchon, which is a whole other list.) Enjoy the depressingly youthful visages and luminous skin below.

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Gather Ye Rosebuds, Please

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
   Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
   Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun, 
   The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
   And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
   When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
   Times still succeed the former. 

Then be not coy, but use your time,
   And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
   You may forever tarry.

Less Is More

“You can’t keep asking for more of certain things, you know? One of the keys to life is having a sense of proportion, knowing how long to sit at a restaurant after you’ve eaten, or how long you should go on vacation – if you go to Hawaii for a month on vacation, I guarantee you that by the end you’ll hate it. So it’s the same with a TV show, you want to do a certain amount of it, so that when people look back on it and they love it. I could have easily done the show for one or two or three more years, but it would have changed the way people look back at it. I think I made the right decision. Because people like the show now even more than they did in the 1990s, because it didn’t get worn out.”

– Jerry Seinfeld

Seinfeld: Why There’s Nothing Better (And Won’t Be)

I found two great reads today about the historic (and my favorite) show, Seinfeld. Ah, yes …the show about four insecure characters who didn’t know they were so neurotic — or maybe they just didn’t care. The show changed my life, in terms of both humor and general creativity. Seinfeld taught me what it was like to be funny through the eyes of someone else: a writer.

When you think about the writers on the show, and then compact their sheer genius with the actors and the directors and all the people on the set, it is almost one of those situations where two meteors collided and an iconic television rose from the debris of the crash. These kinds of things don’t happen often, to make something so good that you celebrate its inception 25 years later. (And Jesus Christ, 25 years? The show is almost older than me.)

I still watch it a lot. Some might say I watch too much. Eh, I don’t care. It makes me happy, it makes me wonder, it makes me think. Oh, and it makes me strive to be a better writer and a better creator. The show has that kind of inspiration, to make you want to do something that great and be remembered for it. The people involved with that show will forever be linked to not only one another but the rest of cultural society through jabs, one-liners and obscure memories.

Alas, here are the two great articles I read today about the 25th anniversary of the first episode: one on Grantland and one in Time. Enjoy, you anti-dentites.

Amazing Asimov

“To me it seems to be important to believe people to be good even if they tend to be bad, because your own joy and happiness in life is increased that way, and the pleasures of the belief outweigh the occasional disappointments. To be a cynic about people works just the other way around and makes you incapable about enjoying the good things.

It’s insulting to imply that only a system of rewards and punishments can keep you a decent human being. Isn’t it conceivable a person wants to be a decent human being because that way he feels better?”

 

Isaac Asimov

Celebrate A Life Once Had

This post seems especially fitting considering the news I have just heard (which I will hopefully discuss soon, to a degree). Human beings look at death as a dreary occasion, one that has many downsides and no upsides. Yes, death is sad because it is just so final. Tons of memories abound from seemingly nowhere, taking you back to a different time and place in not in the dying person’s life but also your own. Sometimes, it’s just too much to bear.

I happened to come across an interesting quote from a man I have come to highly respect, albeit through his words and statements. Chuang-Tzu is not only a beacon for Taoism, but one for living a good life and putting things into perspective when maybe there is dwindling hope or overriding pessimism. The fact is, we all understand how life works: you are born, you try to live a decent life and then you die. What happens before birth and after death is another conversation, but it’s one that we as humans should think about from time to time. Basically, remember the good times. Remember that the suffering eventually ends for everyone, in whatever way you decipher.

Here is the excerpt I read:

When Chuang-Tzu’s wife died his friend came to visit him only to find him singing merrily and drumming on pots and pans. 

His friend said, “I know you’re a Taoist Master and that life and death do not affect you, but to be singing after your wife dies, is this not a bit much?”

Chuang replied, “At first when my wife passed I was sad and wept. But then I realized there was something formless and perfect long before my wife was born. Then this spirit of life was breathed into her body. I was fortunate enough to meet her and spend time with such a beautiful person. Then it was time for the spirit of life to leave her body just as all things change. To be upset about this is to live counter to the Tao. So I stopped crying and started celebrating.”